Friday, May 21, 2010

Coalition publishes broadband intentions


Here's what the LibDem/Conservative full coalition agreement (published yesterday) has to say (page 14, bottom right) about broadband:
"We will introduce measures to ensure the rapid roll-out of superfast broadband across the country. We will ensure that BT and other infrastructure providers allow the use of their assets to deliver such broadband, and we will seek to introduce superfast broadband in remote areas at the same time as in more populated areas. If necessary, we will consider using the part of the TV licence fee that is supporting the digital switchover to fund broadband in areas that the market alone will not reach."
Re-use of assets, especially those owned and operated by "other infrastructure providers", strikes a chord with the potential to extend and consolidate existing education broadband infrastructure to serve areas and communities that are un- or under-served by the current broadband market.

In terms of funding, the 50p landline tax is no more, but the intention to use the underspend from digital switchover monies remains (as set out on page 57 of the final Digital Britain report), or at least is still under consideration, along with a contribution from the Strategic Investment Fund, as described on page 68 of the Pre-Budget Report published in December 2009. The Fund was also mentioned in the Budget Report published in March 2010.

Broadband Delivery UK (BDUK) is the body charged with taking both the universal service commitment and next generation access forward, and, as suspectedEd Vaizey has been appointed as the new minister for broadband, as a joint business and culture minister (see this coverage from the BBC).

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