Feeds

Schools and hospitals to be tapped for superfast broadband

Public sector networks could plug 'final third'

Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops

The government is discussing opening up public sector internet infrastructure to bring down the cost of introducing faster broadband nationwide.

The talks could create initiatives such as connecting fibre links owned by NHS hospitals and schools to local homes and businesses.

Broadband minister Ed Vaizey said exploring such ideas would be his highest priority as he launched a consultation on infrastructure sharing. The talks are aimed at bringing down the cost of deploying fibre and follow the coalition's decision to scrap the previous government's £6 per year tax on landlines.

The tax would have created a £175m annual subsidy pot to pay for fibre in the more sparsely-populated "final third" of the country, where BT has judged the commercial case is too weak. The national telco has committed £2.5bn to upgrade two thirds of its network.

Instead, the coalition will encourage the market to deliver as much as possible, as cheaply as possible before considering subsidies.

Vaizey's pledge came after an internet industry audience at the Department for Business lobbied him to include publicly-owned fibre in the consultation, which will also encourage water and electricity firms to share ducts and overhead infrastructure. Ofcom plans to force BT to do the same.

One of Vaizey's bosses, Culture Secretary Jeremy Hunt, said he was optimistic about how much could be achieved without taxpayer funding. In South Korea - rated to have the best broadband infrastructure in the world - 95 per cent of deployments were privately funded, he said.

"We are dead serious about this," Hunt said.

He declined to give a national speed target, instead repeating his aim that by 2015 the UK will have the best broadband network in Europe. "The reason we're not nailed to a particular speed is because this is a moving feast," he said.

The ministers were also lobbied on the impact of the so-called "fibre tax". Because of the way the Valuation Office Agency calculates the rateable value of communications infrastructure, the tax disproportionately hits the smaller providers, which the government will rely on to deploy fibre to the "final third".

Vaizey and Hunt said the government will investigate the regime to see if it can be improved, but warned any changes must be "revenue neutral" to the Treasury. ®

Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops

More from The Register

next story
Brit telcos warn Scots that voting Yes could lead to HEFTY bills
BT and Co: Independence vote likely to mean 'increased costs'
Phones 4u slips into administration after EE cuts ties with Brit mobe retailer
More than 5,500 jobs could be axed if rescue mission fails
New 'Cosmos' browser surfs the net by TXT alone
No data plan? No WiFi? No worries ... except sluggish download speed
Radio hams can encrypt, in emergencies, says Ofcom
Consultation promises new spectrum and hints at relaxed licence conditions
Blockbuster book lays out the first 20 years of the Smartphone Wars
Symbian's David Wood bares all. Not for the faint hearted
'Serious flaws in the Vertigan report' says broadband boffin
Report 'fails reality test' , is 'simply wrong' and offers ''convenient' justification for FTTN says Rod Tucker
This flashlight app requires: Your contacts list, identity, access to your camera...
Who us, dodgy? Vast majority of mobile apps fail privacy test
prev story

Whitepapers

Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops
Balancing user privacy and privileged access, in accordance with compliance frameworks and legislation. Evaluating any potential remote control choice.
Saudi Petroleum chooses Tegile storage solution
A storage solution that addresses company growth and performance for business-critical applications of caseware archive and search along with other key operational systems.
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?
Security for virtualized datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.
Providing a secure and efficient Helpdesk
A single remote control platform for user support is be key to providing an efficient helpdesk. Retain full control over the way in which screen and keystroke data is transmitted.