The COTS Project
What is it about?
Around the world there are now numerous examples of successful local and community-led broadband infrastructure projects. Looking forward, it is likely that similar projects could play a key role in delivering next generation broadband to parts of the UK.
However, there is a need to ensure that this does not lead to the emergence of a disjointed patchwork of networks that resulted in consumers and businesses being offered a sub-optimal range of services at the retail level.
In order to mitigate this risk a degree of standardisation and harmonisation is required at both the technical and process levels. This would aim to reduce costs for scale retail service providers, for whom cost minimisation is a central concern. However, any standardisation and harmonisation should not inhibit the scope for grass roots innovation at the local level.
Government, regulator, industry and other stakeholders have all indicated that this is an issue that needs to be addressed, and similar activities are currently being undertaken in other markets. The BSG is therefore undertaking the COTS Project (Commercial, Operational and Technical Standards), an industry-led project to examine what needs to be done in order to ensure consumers have access to a full range of service providers, regardless of the underlying network ownership or technology.
In addressing this issue there is an opportunity to create a win-win-win situation where network operators are able to provide a choice of services to consumers and maximise wholesale revenue potential; retail service providers benefit from a larger addressable market; and consumers and small businesses benefit from a wider range of services.
The COTS Project was launched at a kick-off meeting on 29 July. The agenda and presentations for this meeting can be found below, along with the meeting notes.