Feeds

Ofcom primes broadband afterburner

Your country needs you

Bridging the IT gap between rising business demands and ageing tools

Ofcom has blown the horn on the long march towards a modern internet infrastructure for the UK. Today marks the start of its powwow on who should pay for the next generation telecoms network that regulators and government believe is essential to our economic and social future.

A consultation document (pdf) released by the watchdog calls for opinions from all shades of industry and the public on how regulations should be rejigged to foster fibre rollout.

The process is aimed at helping Blighty compete with the 50 and 100Mbit/s downloads enjoyed by business and consumers in South Korea, parts of the US, and forward-thinking regions of the EU.

The 115-page consultation document boils down to five questions:

When do you consider it would be timely and efficient for next generation access investment to take place in the UK?

Do you agree with the principles outlined for regulating next generation access?

How should Ofcom reflect risk in regulated access terms?

Do you agree with the need for both passive and active access remedies to promote competition?

Do you consider there to be a role of direct regulatory or public policy intervention to create artificial incentives for earlier investment in next generation access?

Ofcom chief Ed Richards said: "Investment in next generation access will represent a substantial commercial risk and the market should decide where and when it will be made. We want to ensure there are no barriers to investment."

BT has led cries that the UK regulatory framework discourages replacing the copper last mile of its network with new fibre. It has pointed to a deal between Deutsche Telekom and the German government which tried to give the telco exclusive rights to subsidised superfast infrastructure.

BT says it does not advocate such a bargain here, and it anyway attracted strong criticism from the European Commission. Regulator BNetzA has since intervened to open the market.

Richards continued: "But we also want to ensure that the benefits of competition which consumers have enjoyed with current generation broadband can also be achieved as we move to higher speed next generation access."

EU regulators have lauded the move to open up UK broadband with the creation of BT Wholesale and LLU market early in the decade as an example for other nations to follow. Some next generation network advocates worry that it now means it is not worth anybody's while to spend the billions needed to dig up roads for fibre. The unspoken aim for Ofcom is to design a new scheme that will draw as much cash from broadband providers as possible.

It's conceivable that taxpayers will bear some cost, as competitiveness minister Stephen Timms signalled last week, but in the run up to the Ofcom consultation, BT softened its rhetoric on investment. There's everything to play for.

The consultation closes 5 December. There's details of how to respond here. ®

The Essential Guide to IT Transformation

More from The Register

next story
Auntie remains MYSTIFIED by that weekend BBC iPlayer and website outage
Still doing 'forensics' on the caching layer – Beeb digi wonk
Apple orders huge MOUNTAIN of 80 MILLION 'Air' iPhone 6s
Bigger, harder trouser bulges foretold for fanbois
Bring back error correction, say Danish 'net boffins
We don't need no steenkin' TCP/IP retransmission and the congestion it causes
GoTenna: How does this 'magic' work?
An ideal product if you believe the Earth is flat
Samsung Z Tizen OS mobe is post-phoned – this time for good?
Russian launch for Sammy's non-droid knocked back
Telstra to KILL 2G network by end of 2016
GSM now stands for Grave-Seeking-Mobile network
Seeking LTE expert to insert small cells into BT customers' places
Is this the first step to a FON-a-like 4G network?
Yorkshire cops fail to grasp principle behind BT Fon Wi-Fi network
'Prevent people that are passing by to hook up to your network', pleads plod
prev story

Whitepapers

Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Consolidation: The Foundation for IT Business Transformation
In this whitepaper learn how effective consolidation of IT and business resources can enable multiple, meaningful business benefits.
Application security programs and practises
Follow a few strategies and your organization can gain the full benefits of open source and the cloud without compromising the security of your applications.
How modern custom applications can spur business growth
Learn how to create, deploy and manage custom applications without consuming or expanding the need for scarce, expensive IT resources.
Securing Web Applications Made Simple and Scalable
Learn how automated security testing can provide a simple and scalable way to protect your web applications.