Friday, March 12, 2010

A few more items from the news

  • The Conservatives have launched their technology manifesto as part of the build up to the election. This re-states their ambition to deliver broadband speeds of 100Mbps to most homes by 2017: "Our plans will give Britain the fastest high speed broadband network in Europe, helping to create 600,000 additional jobs...We will unleash private sector investment to build this superfast broadband network by opening up network infrastructure, easing planning rules and boosting competition...If the market does not deliver superfast broadband in certain areas, we will consider using the proportion of the licence fee dedicated to digital switchover to finance superfast broadband roll out under the new BBC licence fee settlement, starting in 2012. This amount would be leveraged to maximise the investment made, either by making it available as loans or on a matched funding basis."
  • The BBC report that Virgin are to trial fibre delivery via telegraph poles: "The firm believes it could be used to extend its reach to another one million homes in the UK, mainly in rural areas. The trial will initially deliver 50 megabits per second (Mbps) broadband to the Berkshire village of Woolhampton." The press release is here; Fierce Telecom report that Virgin Media currently serves 12.6 million homes with an underground fibre network. An aerial deployment could enable it to target more than 1 million new homes. The trial will build on experience gained in a previous FTTC trial in Cornwall.
  • Also from Fierce Telecom, it seems the Australian government is struggling to gain support for its proposals to break up Telstra, the incumbent service provider, so as to merge its wireline business into the planned National Broadband Network (NBN).
  • The EU launched a consultation on 2 March, closing on 7 May, on future universal service in the digital era: "Current EU rules on universal service obligations for telecoms date from 2002 and guarantee that Europeans have access to public telephone networks and to services like basic internet access. The consultation launched today aims to see if these rules and definitions on universal service need to be updated for the digital age, and in particular if they should be extended to cover broadband access...the Commission will report on the results in a Communication, which it may follow with legislative proposals before the end of 2010, if necessary." The press release is here and the consultation document is here. Interesting to see how the outcome impacts on BIS/BDUK activity in relation to the UK's proposed Universal Service Commitment (USC).
  • In the US, the National Cable & Telecommunications Association (NCTA) and member company Eagle Communications' have protested about a $101 million broadband grant given to Rural Telephone Service Co. under the broadband stimulus programme. They claim, as reported by Fierce Telecom, that instead of targeting an unserved or underserved community, the majority of the money being spent is on Hays, Kansas, an area well served by communications infrastructure, effectively overbuilding in an area already served by Eagle. Other instances of overbuilding have also been reported.
  • The US Information Technology and Innovation Foundation (ITIF) have published a new report: Going Mobile: Technology and Policy Issues in the Mobile Internet examines "changes that must be made to the Internet and to the mobile network to make the Mobile Internet a pervasive and universal reality in the United States and the rest of the world."
  • Also in the US, EDUCAUSE, as part of a broad group of eleven library and higher education-related institutions and organisations, has called on the FCC to adopt net neutrality principles, to preserve "an open internet". Their letter to the FCC recognises that operators should be "able to engage in reasonable network management", so long as such actions are reasonably consistent with the principle of non-discrimination (as ever, the devil's in the detail here) and network management practices are disclosed to ensure users can make informed choices about broadband services.

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