Friday, July 09, 2010

Recent developments catch-up: further investment in US, Wales...


Some bullet points to quickly catch up with recent interesting announcements and articles as the week comes to a close:
  • Nearly $795m in grants and loans for broadband deployment projects across the USA was announced last week - more details from Computerworld here and the White House here. These grants include the $62.5m UCAN grant discussed in this previous post.
  • The BBC report that rural broadband notspots are to get £2m support in the form of grants of up to £1,000 to individuals living in affected areas. A BlogSDN article reports that "Telecomms Facilities has made one (potentially sacrilegious) suggestion that church spires could be used as mounts for high strength wireless internet transmitters, this would potentially increase the range of internet access to more rural and out of the way areas of Wales". The suggestion has been welcomed both by the Church and broadband campaigners.
  • The World Bank have offered further evidence to show a connection between broadband and growth in GDP, according to the European Broadband Portal: "The World Bank has found that in low- and middle-income countries every 10 percentage point increase in broadband penetration accelerates economic growth by 1.38 percentage points—more than in high-income countries and more than for other telecommunications services." Full report available here.
  • Techradar have an interesting article on how to start your own ISP, focusing on Rutland Telecom and offering a six step guide to DIY broadband provision.
  • Total Telecom report that the New Zealand government plans to make recommendations on investment partners for a NZ$3 billion ultra-fast broadband (UFB) initiative by October 2010. The initiative is underpinned by open access principles.
  • The Rural Services Network report the launch of a project to speed up rural broadband connections in the West Midlands: "If successful, the initiative will benefit 40,000 rural residents and more than 2500 rural businesses. Worcester-based Airband Community Internet will provide high speed coverage across market towns in Herefordshire, Shropshire and Worcestershire. The project has benefitted from a £200,000 investment from the Rural Development Programme for England (RDPE). It is expected to provide universal 2mb wireless broadband access across a 40 square mile triangle between Leominster, Ludlow and Tenbury Wells."
  • The East of England Development Agency (EEDA) has secured £0.5m through RDPE to help plug some of the gaps in rural broadband availability, according to The Engineer: "Local authorities, businesses, social enterprises and charities can all bid for a share of the funding to support community broadband projects. That could be to upgrade existing infrastructure to exceed 2Mbit/sec, or to install new hardware needed to adopt next-generation broadband with speeds of up to 50Mbit/s." More detail here.
  • An interesting article in PC World on a public option for low-cost broadband provision in the US: "The “public option” proposals in the healthcare bills were designed to create a new, low-cost player in the health insurance market. This, the thinking went, would apply competitive pressure to the large insurers, which dominate the market, and would eventually increase the quality and lower the costs of healthcare. The same approach might create those positive effects in the consumer broadband market. The government would provide a reasonably priced basic broadband service that’s available to all consumers. The broadband service would be administered nationally by an FCC-led program, and the service itself would be allowed by law to run over existing broadband infrastructure owned by cable and/or telecom companies. Such a program could also be run at the state or municipal level, so the people running the plan would be closer to the broadband network and to the customers it serves. In a slightly less "socialist" approach, broadband service could be administered by the large ISPs themselves, according to a strict set of service guidelines that the FCC would create and enforce. The broadband service itself would be basic. Since the FCC has set a goal for broadband service to be universally available at 4 mbps downstream and 1 mbps upstream by 2020, so why not set the bar there for the minimum speed requirement of the public plan? If people or small businesses wanted faster or fuller-featured broadband service, they could easily pay extra for higher tiers of service from the private ISP of their choice. But the public option would always be there as a safety net. This, of course, would be a massive undertaking on the scale of, say, Medicare. But given the growing importance of broadband access for all, shouldn't it be considered?"

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