Feeds

Schools and hospitals to be tapped for superfast broadband

Public sector networks could plug 'final third'

Boost IT visibility and business value

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. ®

Boost IT visibility and business value

More from The Register

next story
Scotland's BIG question: Will independence cost me my broadband?
They can take our lives, but they'll never take our SPECTRUM
Trying to sell your house? It'd better have KILLER mobile coverage
More NB than transport links to next-gen buyers - study
Auntie remains MYSTIFIED by that weekend BBC iPlayer and website outage
Still doing 'forensics' on the caching layer – Beeb digi wonk
NBN Co adds apartments to FTTP rollout
Commercial trial locations to go live in September
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?
What FTC lawsuit? T-Mobile US touts 10GB, $100 family-of-4 plan
Folks 'could use that money for more important things' says CEO Legere
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.
Backing up Big Data
Solving backup challenges and “protect everything from everywhere,” as we move into the era of big data management and the adoption of BYOD.
Boost IT visibility and business value
How building a great service catalog relieves pressure points and demonstrates the value of IT service management.
Why and how to choose the right cloud vendor
The benefits of cloud-based storage in your processes. Eliminate onsite, disk-based backup and archiving in favor of cloud-based data protection.