CEO’s monthly update – the rolling traffic lights of broadband policy

CEO’s monthly update – the rolling traffic lights of broadband policy

Pamela LearmonthFirst up, traffic management – or more specifically net neutrality and the open internet – are firmly back on the political agenda. Commissioner Neelie Kroes outlined her ‘No Disconnect’ policy in a major speech this week. Watch this space for updates from the UK being coordinated by the BSG over the coming months, and take a look at our work to date here.

The Major Projects Authority – the unit based in the Cabinet Office tasked with evaluating the progress of major government programmes – rated the four major broadband initiatives running out DCMS as operating with either ‘Amber’ or ‘Amber/Red’ status – read BSG’s blog on the report here.

There were a number of developments on the delivery side of a number of the government’s key broadband objectives. Firstly, the Mobile Infrastructure Project contract for £150m was awarded to Arqiva. The Rural Communities Broadband fund has had its application deadline extended by a month to the 17 June. Additionally, the call for input on 700 MHz spectrum has now been launched by Ofcom.

To continue with the traffic light analogy, a green light was given by Nicola Sturgeon MSP to a new £7m fund to get Scottish businesses digitally connected. This announcement was given at the Digital Scotland conference earlier this month, where I chaired an interesting session on connecting the unconnected, exploring how to persuade those with physical access to broadband to sign up.

Digital inclusion was also the theme at yesterday’s parliamentary seminar hosted by Carnegie UK Trust, following their recently published report Across the Divide, where I joined an interesting line-up of speakers and MPs all keen to raise the profile of inclusion issues in the wider broadband debate.

This month we are partnering with two great conferences. Intellect’s annual Consumer Electronics conference on 12 June has the theme of The Future of Digital Entertainment and our Chair Richard Hooper will be speaking in a debate considering how we navigate a new era of complete connectivity. We are also pleased to support NextGen’s Intelligent Cities conference on 19 June will look beyond basic connectivity infrastructure to open data, mobile technologies, innovation, healthcare, wealth creation, digital inclusion and M2M capabilities.

The big policy calendar event for June will be the Chancellor’s Spending Review on 26 June. The Queens’ speech last month saw government staying the course on their broadband objectives – but with every department fighting to justify spending commitments, how will the Department of Culture, Media and Sport fair? We’ll be keeping a keen eye on the wider role of broadband in the government’s vision for a competitive information economy.