“Within this parliament we want Britain to have the best superfast broadband in Europe.”
An ambitious goal given the progress in Finland and the plans in Germany and France, but this was the target set out by the new UK government through Jeremy Hunt, the Culture Secretary.
So how are they planning to do it?
Building on pre-election Conservative party policy, the approach is largely based on stimulating private investment by opening access to passive infrastructure, such as ducts and poles, not only of the incumbent BT, but also of other telecoms providers, the sewers and utility networks. They have also announced three market testing projects for high-speed broadband in rural areas and plans to use part of the underspend on digital switchover to bring basic broadband to all.
The best in Europe. A welcome aspiration – let’s hope they show the commitment necessary to meet it.
One of the key policy debates now ongoing in Washington DC is whether to set aside spectrum for use in the smart grid – spectrum that the utilities could themselves use for their own deployments.
In a recent filing at the FCC, Cisco provided its thoughts on how the FCC might evaluate policies to promote and accelerate the use of smart grid technologies across the country. As it turns out, a portion of our filing was misrepresented in a blog and elsewhere on the internet, stating that we do not support additional spectrum allocations for utilities. In fact, we believe this is a critical issue at the FCC that goes beyond the boundaries of technology and should be evaluated based on business models and the need to accelerate smart grid deployments.
Sovereignty and national security have always been key concerns for national governments. The need for self reliance and the avoidance of reliance on external parties are natural instincts for countries. In the early days, many developing economies adopted a policy of import substitution to avoid a dependence on foreign goods by creating domestic companies that can meet internal demands. Such initiatives also created jobs within the country to keep unemployment low. While these concerns and fears are legitimate and genuine, in today’s global economy, it does not make sense for every country to produce everything it needs, nor to have domestic companies run every industry.
For example, while steel is important for nation building, steel production is not something that very country can do or need to do. Instead, they buy what they need from whomever offers them the best value for money. Air travel is essential to international commerce, but not every country can produce their own aircrafts. Today’s main producers are Boeing and Airbus, and most airlines buy aircrafts from them. Extensive reliance on purchasing aircrafts from Boeing and Airbus has not limited the competitiveness and distinctive service level offered by globally successful airlines such as Singapore Airlines and Cathay Pacific. In the same breath, although many countries started with national carriers, not many have survived today, e.g. Swissair collapsed and the successor national airline Swiss was bought over by the German Lufthansa. Domestic production does not appear to be not a criteria for success.
I had an opportunity to participate this week at CITEL’s seminar on Spectrum Requirements for Broadband Deployment. I titled my presentation “Spectrum Requirements for the Information Economy,” which I believe, this is what it is at stake.
There was overwhelming consensus in that one of the best policy determinations Governments could do to foster the development of wireless mobile broadband networks is putting spectrum to work.