Saturday, March 31, 2012

Europe - The EC has published a report on the implementation of national broadband plans

The European Commission staff working document on the implementation of national broadband plans - SWD(2012)68 final/2 - was published as part of the Digital Agenda for Europe. It is intended to help share best practice.

On basic broadband the remaining coverage gaps are predominantly rural. The EC has previously issued a Communication Better access for rural areas to modern ICT.

There is wider variation in speeds for next generation access, from 30 to 100 Mbps. At the top end is Luxembourg which has a 2020 target of 1Gbps/0.5Gbps (download/upload).
In setting NGA targets, several Member States focus on what is achievable by ‘optimised’ market forces. They acknowledge the need to ‘improve the market’, which may require limited public funding, but are not prepared to countenance large-scale public intervention. The most quoted reason seems to be that there is not sufficient evidence of market failure, as there are not many applications which would require NGA bandwidths in the foreseeable future. In support of this argument they point to low takeup rates in areas where ultra-fast connections are already available. These countries tend to fix high-speed targets in line with what they predict the market will supply, although some indicate that they would be ready to revisit their approach in the event of a substantial change in supply and demand parameters.

In terms of demand for NGA, only five countries (Cyprus, Hungary, Italy, Lithuania and Portugal) which have fully subscribed to the DAE targets have integrated take-up targets into their broadband plans. The fact that so few have entered into commitments reflects the belief that demand will follow supply and, hence, a policy that leads to the desired supply is all that is needed. Again, a number of Member States question the rationale for ultra-fast broadband subscription targets, claiming there is little evidence of market failure and no visible externalities associated with a connectivity subscription as such. This group tends to disregard, or disagree, that widespread usage of high-speed connectivity may be a precondition for the development of new applications which are not necessarily known today or that already today the simultaneous use of numerous existing applications may push current bandwidths to their limits.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Report on global deployment of fibre to the premises (FTTP)

Diffraction Analysis has published A World of Fibre:
Fiber to the premises (FTTP) has become a major differentiator in the access market. The list of countries with significant FTTP deployment grows every year, and 2011 was no exception. Overall, however, FTTP deployment is growing far more slowly than expected, and this has led to government intervention in many countries around the world. This report examines deployment dynamics around the world and their implications for service providers, vendors and policy makers
The report can be downloaded freely if you register.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

USA - Better coordination needed among public and private stakeholders to raise broadband adoption

Marking the second anniversary of the US National Broadband Plan, TechNet has produced a report. It cautioned that:
Specifically, 65% of Americans had broadband at home in 2009 according to a Federal Communications Commission survey. In the fall of 2011, the National Telecommunications & Information Administration report pegged home broadband adoption at 68%, demonstrating that this rate has not changed very much since the plan went into effect.
John Horrigan, Vice President of Policy Research:
Neglect of coordination and assessment is a problem for two reasons. First, it means stakeholders are flying blind when it comes to understanding best practices to improve broadband adoption. Second, to the extent that poor policy coordination hampers efforts to increase broadband adoption, we run the risk of having a less inclusive society, a smaller domestic market for technology goods and services and a less innovative economy.
The full text of the report is available.

The World Bank has published a handbook for broadband strategies

infoDev has published a Broadband Strategies Handbook:
a guide for policy-makers, regulators, and other relevant stakeholders as they address issues related to broadband development. It aims to help readers, particularly those in developing countries, by identifying issues and challenges in broadband development, analyzing potential solutions to consider, and providing practical examples from countries that have addressed broadband-related matters.
It is available to download or to view online from ISSUU.

UK - Rapid growth of smaller, alternative broadband providers

Point Topic, in a press release, reports that:
alternative network operators have increased their residential customer base by 85% since mid-2011, and had around 8,400 fibre-based superfast end user connections at the end of 2011. These include fibre-to-the-cabinet, fibre-to-the-premises and fibre-to-the-building providers whose customers are receiving download speeds of at least 25Mbps.
Annelise Berendt, Senior Analyst said:
There is evidence, including from BT, that take up of superfast services is highest in those areas previously experiencing poor speeds of 2Mbps or below, and this bodes well for those addressing such markets and aiming to make the business case stake up

Eurostat - Computer skills in the 27 member states

Eurostat has published Computer skills in the EU27 in figures for E-Skills Week 2012.
In 2011, more than three quarters of those aged 16-74 in the EU27 had used a computer5, while this share was 96% amongst those aged 16-24. The highest shares of those aged 16-74 having used a computer were observed in Sweden (96%), Denmark, Luxembourg and the Netherlands (all 94%), and the lowest in Romania (50%), Bulgaria (55%) and Greece (59%). In most Member States the share of young people who had used a computer was above 95%.
For the UK the persons who had ever used a computer were 91% for those aged 16 to 74 and 100% for those aged 16-24.

Glasgow loses and Edinburgh wins in bids for HMG funding for broadband

STV reported on the the Budget speech of George Osborne PC MP,
Chancellor of the Exchequer, had announced the winners of a £150 million fund for ultra-fast broadband scheme. The cities selected were: London, Cardiff, Belfast, Edinburgh, Birmingham, Bristol, Leeds & Bradford, Newcastle and Manchester. Glasgow did not win.

Services of 80 Mbps would be rolled out in the 10 Super-Connected Cities.

The Guardian reported:
According to the Treasury, by 2015 the money will deliver ultrafast broadband coverage to 1.7m households and 200,000 businesses in high growth areas as well as high-speed wireless broadband for 3 million residents.

Call for more broadband for rural and remote SMEs

The Scotsman on the report by the Scottish Parliament, quotes Committee Convener Maureen Watt as saying:
We received evidence from a wide range of individuals, communities and businesses concerned about unreliable and slow internet connections. These issues were shown to have a particularly detrimental effect on small and medium sized businesses outside the main urban centres of Scotland.

Gourock - Superfast broadband to be available in 4,750 premises by spring 2013

The Greenock Telegraph reports that as part of an initiative by BT, costing a total of £2.5 billion, some 4,750 homes and businesses in Gourock are to have access to superfast broadband. Gourock is one of 18 locations in Scotland included in the latest phase of roll-out, expected in spring 2013.

London - House of Lords Communications Committee hearing evidence on broadband

The House of Lords Communications Committee is today hearing evidence on broadband from:
  • Mr Lorne Mitchell, Managing Director of Objective Designers Limited
  • Mr Francesco Caio, Chief Executive of the Avio Group
This is part of its inquiry into Superfast Broadband.

Monday, March 26, 2012

Scotland - The market for broadband appears to have stopped growing at lower levels than the rest of the UK

I have posted An Update on Broadband Statistics in the United Kingdom on SSRN.

This notes the apparent stagnation of the market for broadband in Scotland and that it is happening at lower levels than in the rest of the UK. In particular there seem to be problems of low levels of adoption of new technologies in Scotland and of broadband in lower incomes groups.

Scottish Parliament - Committee report on broadband infrastructure published calling for greater ambition and focus on rural areas

Infrastructure and Capital Investment Committee of the Scottish Parliament has published its report on Broadband Infrastructure in Scotland (SP Paper 104).

It recommended that
  • public investment should only be made where it is clear there is potential for the market to deliver;
  • the Scottish Government’s broadband targets for 2020 must be more ambitious in order to ensure that rural areas in Scotland are not left further behind, and need to offer greater clarity to local communities and businesses about the level of broadband service that they can expect for their areas in the future;
  • aggregation of services to make them more commercially attractive should be balanced with the need to maintain flexibility to address local requirements;
  • the chosen infrastructure solutions must be future-proofed, and although any procurement specification should be technology-neutral, it must emphasise the need for a mixed-technology approach for Scotland;
  • the BDUK Mobile Infrastructure Project4 to eradicate mobile ‘not-spots’ and the 4G auction will be crucial and they must result in a substantial increase in mobile coverage in Scotland;
  • to encourage innovation, any barriers created by the regulatory and planning frameworks should be identified and removed wherever possible, and the ‘seed fund’ should utilise the expertise and experience of the industry; and
  • efforts to increase broadband take-up should be targeted at those groups or geographical areas where take-up has so far been particularly low, such as the over-55s, small and medium-sized businesses, and parts of Glasgow; and
  • the implementation and delivery of the Scottish Government’s Action Plan is crucial and the Committee intends to monitor its progress