Thursday, February 28, 2013

UK - Internet statistics - 33 million adults accessed the Internet every day, more than double the 2006 figure

The Office for National Statistics (ONS) has published Internet Access - Households and Individuals, 2012 part 2
  • In 2012, 33 million adults accessed the Internet every day, more than double the 2006 figure of 16 million, when directly comparable records began.
  • Approximately 87% of adults aged between 16 and 24, used social networking sites in 2012, compared to 48% of all adults.
  • Telephone or video calls over the Internet were made by 32% of adults in 2012, double the 2009 estimate of 16%, and four times higher than the 2007 estimate of 8%.
  • Access to the Internet using a mobile phone more than doubled between 2010 and 2012, from 24% to 51%. In 2012, 32% of adults accessed the Internet using a mobile phone every day.

Scotland - Thoughts in response to the proposals by the Scottish government for post-independence regulatory structures

The Scottish Government has launched a document [green paper?] on Economic and Competition Regulation in an Independent Scotland. It suggests that the small size of Scotland and economies of scope justify either a combined single competition authority and all-sector regulator or a competition authority and an all-sector regulator. All sectors here exclude broadcasting and financial services, to be considered separately.

Such radical changes in the short period from October 2014 to March 2016 seem to increase the risks in the transition towards separate Scottish markets for telecoms, post, electricity, gas and rail.

In theory the structure of the competition authority and regulatory bodies in a (potentially) independent Scotland offers a wide range of options. There are all sorts of examples from other countries that might be copied and many which must be avoided.

In reality there are severe constraints.

The Openreach agreement between BT and OFCOM was made under competition law powers and, unless someone wants to open a can of unpleasant and complex worms, it is something an independent Scotland would be stuck with for several years. Thus a future Scottish telecoms regulator must have competition law powers, either in the same mould as OFCOM with sector competition law powers or a combined competition authority and telecommunications regulator. Therefore the proposal of a separate competition authority and multi-sector regulator appears to be unworkable in the medium-term.

The EU acquis communitaire requires (this is non-negotiable, it was settled years ago) that there must be a designated regulator and that it must be independent and subject to a national system of appeals. In effect, that means it must be Scottish, it cannot be outsourced to the English, the Irish, the Indians or whoever is cheapest.

Integration of regulators sounds like it might save money. However, if a body covered competition, telecoms, broadcasting, energy, rail and posts, it would have to have to work with policy directions from a number of government departments and with a number of parliamentary oversight committees. Moreover, it would have to participate in one European regulatory network for each of these topics. Thus it would need to have a figurehead (e.g., commissioner) for each of these functions.

Any changes from the present UK regulatory model would be viewed with suspicion by operators, trying to work out if they would be better off or worse off. Uncertainty in this would be likely to have a chilling effect on investment.

For example, moving to an integrated competition/telecoms regulator suggests that all problems are seen as competition law, rather than regulation. That would change quite significantly the expectation of the outcomes of regulatory processes.

Especially given the very rapid timescale, from a referendum in October 2014 to independence in March 2016, with an intervening UK general election, the simplest option would be roll-over UK laws, replicate the UK institutions, with new names to avoid confusion, waiting to conduct reviews after a couple of years.

It is proposed to replicate in Scotland the Competition Appeal Tribunal or take cases directly to the Court of Session. The former seems much the better option.

There is an entirely different set of considerations about how to improve structures and processes should the referendum conclude that Scotland remains in the UK for the foreseeable future.

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

USA - Analysis of ISP performance on the market, with satellite showing a marked improvement

The FCC has published A Report on Consumer Wireline Broadband Performance in the US:
This study, like those conducted before, involves actual performance tests for thousands of subscribers of Internet Service Providers (ISPs) serving well over 80 percent of the residential market.

In this report, we are pleased to include results on satellite technology for the first time, based on test results collected from ViaSat, a major satellite services provider.

It notes the improved satellite performance:

In the past, satellite broadband faced certain technological challenges not experienced by wireline technologies. Previous generations of satellites had limited bandwidth, which restricted the speeds available to the consumer. In addition, due to the physical characteristics of satellite technology, latencies are significantly larger than for terrestrial technologies. Starting in 2011, the consumer broadband satellite industry began launching a new generation of satellites which have greatly improved overall performance.

Australia - NBN offers support for Communications Alliance inquiry into NBN

In Australia a rather surprising development is reported by ZDnet on opening a wide-ranging debate on the NBN:
NBN Co CEO Mike Quigley has signalled support for a Communications Alliance-led study into the different potential broadband rollouts in Australia, to help inform what he said has become a "serious debate" over the National Broadband Network (NBN) project.

In a wide-ranging speech delivered at an American Chamber of Commerce lunch in Sydney on Friday, Quigley went through the pros and cons of the different sorts of technologies that are currently being debated in the public arena ahead of the 2013 federal election: fibre to the premises (FttP), fibre to the node (FttN), hybrid fibre-coaxial (HFC), fixed wireless, and satellite.

Quigley said:
It is for this reason that NBN Co welcomes and supports a study that is being considered by the Communications Alliance into the potential pros and cons of a range of policy and technology options and their future impact on the National Broadband Network.
Somewhat predictably, Malcolm Turnbull, the opposition spokesman, attacked, again as reported by ZDnet:
"This isn't policy on the run. It's policy chaos," he said.

Turnbull said that unless Quigley can explain why the Communications Alliance would be better suited to run the inquiry rather than the Productivity Commission or Infrastructure Australia, then the proposal was a "cheap stunt".

See also the full blog entry by Turnbull.

See also Communications Alliance.

London - Procurement of Wi-Fi on street furniture (e.g., lamposts)

Broadband Finders reports on the final stages of a large Wi-Fi provision in London:
A number of London councils are in the closing stages of a procurement plan to provide public Wi-Fi and mobile phone signal networks to public spaces throughout the city.
PC Pro reported:
The scheme could see residents receive free Wi-Fi access using a system of transceivers attached to lampposts, bus shelters and other street furniture.

Geoff Connell, director of IT for Newham Council, one of the 16 authorities involved in negotiations with suppliers, said the project was already under way. "The boroughs are basically saying 'we have these assets such as lampposts and street furniture that are available', and suppliers are bidding to use those for wireless services," he told PC Pro.

According to Connell, the scheme would enable local councils to generate revenue from selling access to their assets and give consumers free Wi-Fi access. That wireless network would connect back to the internet backbone through hubs on wired-up lampposts and other council-owned property.

UK Parliament - Baroness Lane Fox of Soho is the new title of the UK's Digital Champion

The House of Lords Appointments Commission has announced the elevation to the peerage of:
Martha Lane Fox CBE co-founded in1998. She took the company public in 2000 and it was sold in 2005. It is Europe’s largest travel and leisure website. She is currently the founder and Chair of Go On UK, a radical new cross sector charity that aims to spread digital skills. She co-founded the karaoke business LuckyVoice in 2004 and chairs MakieLab, a start-up networked toy company. She is currently a non-executive director of Marks and Spencer and the Women's Prize for Fiction. In 2007 she started Antigone, her own grant giving foundation, which funds charities that target neglected causes. She chairs Founders Forum for Good and is a Patron of AbilityNet, Repreive, Just for Kids Law and Camfed, (which educates girls and supports young women to become agents of change). Martha Lane Fox has been the UK Government’s digital champion since 2009 and is a non-executive director of the Efficiency and Reform Board at Cabinet Office and the Government Digital Service.

BDUK - maps, files and guidance on the use of fixed wireless technologies in state aid broadband projects

Broadband Delivery United Kingdom (BDUK) has published details of the various schemes to delivery the state aid.

These are available as a file and as a map.

It has also published guidance notes:

This document provides guidance to local and community bodies as well as other interested stakeholders on the role that we expect fixed wireless technologies to play in BDUK’s superfast broadband programme.
The note is in addition to

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Europe - Advances in research collaboration with GEANT's high-speed ICT infrastructure 99.999% availability for 40 million users at speeds up to 2 Tbps

The European Commission reports
GÉANT, the pan-European research and education network infrastructure, is evolving fast. Long considered the most advanced research network in the world thanks to its 99.999 % availability, continual development and an expanding range of multi-domain services to enhance performance and access, GÉANT is building on that reputation with a comprehensive upgrade to its transmission and switching technology ― and effectively future-proofing the network to 2020. Europe's critical network will continue to enable research and innovation that is seen as a driver of European growth by supporting some of the world's largest and most data-intensive research projects.

Together with Europe's National Research and Education Networks (NRENs), GÉANT connects over 40 million users in more than 8000 universities, higher education institutes, research institutes, libraries, museums, national archives and hospitals, as well as a further 22 000 primary and secondary schools.

GÉANT is currently implementing a major infrastructure upgrade, including the latest transmission and switching technology to support up to 2 terabits per second (Tbps) capacity across the core network, effectively future-proofing Europe's critical network infrastructure through 2020. 500 Gigabits per second (Gbps) capacity will be available across the core network from first implementation, delivering circuits across Europe that will allow individual users to transfer data at speeds of up to 100;\Gbps, or multiples thereof, thereby enabling faster collaboration on critical projects and meeting the rapidly increasing demand for data transfer.

Scotland - Achieving world-class digital infrastructure - consultants report on Australia, Ireland, South Korea, Lithuania and Sweden

The Salmond Administration has launched a Digital Dialogue:
We are seeking input and views from businesses and organisations across the country.
It has published a report on Achieving World-Class digital infrastructure by Broadband Access Strategies of Devon and Kas Kalba of Connecticut:
The Scottish Government has committed to developing and delivering world-class digital infrastructure across Scotland by 2020.

This report explores the possibilities for World Class infrastructure and imagines a panorama of potential applications and services. The objective is to stimulate debate about World Class in 2020 utilising research and case studies from other leading countries, and while this study provides a set of recommendations it is not meant to provide all the answers.

Five case studies were chosen – Australia, Ireland, South Korea, Lithuania and Sweden – on the basis of their visions and achievements with respect to digital infrastructure and the digital society, and the lessons they can provide for what Scotland should consider or avoid going forward.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

France - Government to contribute towards EUR 18 billion needed for network roll-out

Reuters reports the French Government plan for funding broadband:
Three tranches of more than 6 billion euros each will fund the planned network rollout, Hollande said. One will come from network operators, one from a mix of operators and local government and the last from state and local-government money.

Local governments' outlay will be funded using tax-free, regulated deposits gathered by state bank Caisse des Depots.

By 2017, the end of President Hollande's first term, 50 percent of the country will be covered under the plan.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Europe - Switching 700 MHz over to mobile broadband, EC proposes technical and political measures

Commissioner Kroes, speaking to the Radio Spectrum Policy Group (RSPG), identified actions on the 700 MHz band.
We need an action plan for wireless communications, to boost Europe's ecosystem, and remove the barriers that stand in our way. And I will be putting forward that action plan soon.

And here is one opportunity that we must seize as a priority.

The 700 Megahertz band offers a huge potential: for the Single Market, and worldwide.

As you know, the 2012 World Radiocommunications Conference decided to have both mobile and broadcasting services co-allocated in the 700 Megahertz band by 2015.

There is huge potential in international harmonisation. So I want to avoid a fragmented approach, balance the interests of incumbent

First, we have just approved a mandate to ask CEPT to develop the technical conditions for wireless broadband in this band.

To serve our spectrum objectives, and prepare the ground ahead of the ITU in 2015.

On the political level:
The European Commission needs a dialogue with the mobile and broadcasting industries, complementing that with the RSPG. And to have views from these important stakeholders too, I plan to set up a High-Level Group from industry, dealing with both political and technical aspects.

I don't see this as a win-lose exercise. And nor do I listen to those who argue that the Internet will end broadcasting. Not only does the consumer need both industries: but they both need each other, and increasingly overlap. The Internet gives a new platform, a new chance for broadcasters to offer higher-quality services – on-demand and interactive.

So we should be prepared for a strategic shift in thinking. For those two sectors, as well as other incumbent spectrum users.

UK - HMG has invited input to its UK Government Information Economy Strategy

The UK government has published a consultation paper inviting input to its Information Economy Strategy.

For the purposes of this strategy the working description of the information economy is being taken as:
“the part of the economy where digital technologies and information combine to drive productivity and create new growth opportunities across the whole economy”
The information economy sector is a significant enabler of other sectors. The use of digital technology and information is a key element of most parts of the economy which means the strategy has the potential to make a real difference not only in the UK’s IT sector but across the whole economy.
The main areas are:
  • smart cities;
  • cloud computing;
  • internet of things;
  • big data; and
  • e-commerce.
The deadline for comments is 15 March 2013.

USA - report identified broadband performance, with a reasoned explanation of areas where is lags other developed countries

The Information Technology and Innovation Foundation (ITIF) has published a report The Whole Picture: Where America's Broadband Networks Really Stand.

Rob Atkinson, President of ITIF, observed:

Despite the frequent claims that the United States lags in international broadband comparisons, the studies cited to support this argument are out-of-date, poorly-focused, and/or analytically deficient. Through this report we identify multiple areas where America is doing well, where improvement is needed and most importantly the real reasons for some areas of lagging performance.
One reason being the smaller number of households, or the higher levels of household composition.
The U.S. is near the top of the rankings in terms of the deployment and adoption of high-speed, wired networks and leads the OECD in adoption of advanced wireless LTE broadband networks. In addition, U.S. broadband speeds, while behind nations such as Korea and Japan, where government has subsidized deployment of fiber optic networks, also rank in the top 10 in the world.
There remained significant differences in adoption by socio-demographic groups (see figure).

Scotland - Consumer Advice expresses concerns about access to government services for those non-users of the Internet

Citizens Advice Scotland (see press release) states:
Citizens Advice Scotland is concerned that a digital by default approach to welfare benefits could exclude some of the most vulnerable and marginalised members of society from accessing the very services they rely upon.

In this report, we detail evidence from citizens advice bureaux that shows how people are already being denied benefits to which they are entitled and having benefits taken away from them because they cannot access or use the internet.

While its comments are directed to HMG, the move by the Scottish Government to the same approach, may raise similar issues.

Scotland - Govt published strategy for digital by default delivery of public services

The Salmond Administration has published Scotland’s Digital Future: Delivery of Public Services, Central Government Strategy "for delivering digital public services in Scotland" for the ten years to 2022.
  • Digitally enabled online public services based on the needs of citizens
  • Digital public services which are easily accessible and well supported
  • Digital public services that are cost effective, streamlined and efficient
  • IT systems and platforms that are agile and adaptable in response to changing organisational, business and customer needs
Accountability is to be achieved by:
  • Governance is delivered through the Strategic Corporate Services Board (SCSB), aligned to the Digital Public Services Board, and follows the frameworks outlined in the national strategy;
  • The Information Systems Investment Board (ISIB) will advise the SCSB on relevant ICT investment decisions across central government providing assurance where appropriate and recommending further action and challenge when required;
  • Project and Programme Boards will be created to support and deliver on the outcomes of the sectoral action plan and provide assurance to the SCSB; and
  • Central government organisations’ own Boards will ensure that delivery of outcomes from the sectoral action plan are embedded in their own governance arrangements.

UK - 4G will cause some interference for TV signals, but support is available for consumers

The Daily Telegraph reports concerns about interference to television signals from 4G mobile signals.
Up to 2.3 million homes are expected to be affected by significant levels of TV interference when the new 4G spectrum is switched on later this year. Some 40,000 could lose their TV signal altogether amid confusion and a lack of preparation for the big switch-on which is beginning to alarm ministers and senior Whitehall officials.

To prevent the interference, and to carry on watching TV normally, householders will have to book a call from engineer who will install a filter free of charge.

For additional sets a fee of £5 per filter will be charged to block out the 4G signals.

The issue is being handled for the UK Government by Digital Mobile Spectrum Limited (DMSL), provided with a budget of £180 million from mobile phone operators.

EU - Grand Coalition for Digital Skills and Jobs - to combine public and private sectors to close the skills gap

Euractiv briefs on the forthcoming Grand Coalition for Digital Skills and Jobs in March.
The European Commission in March is due to launch an initiative designed to close the gap between an unskilled workforce and the EU’s growing demand for information and communications technology (ICT).

Neelie Kroes, Commission vice president for digital affairs, will launch a so-called Grand Coalition for Digital Jobs and Training at a conference in Brussels on 4-5 March, during which she will seek to confirm partnership ‘pledges’ from the private sector.

The EU executive is seeking collaboration on industry-led training, assisting labour mobility, certifying skills, improving school and university curriculums, and creating an entrepreneurs friendly environment for start-ups.

It will also seek to help the sector shrug off a dowdy reputation that is deterring young people generally, and specifically women.

This was already trailed in January at the WEF in Davos.:

UK - ONS infographic on Internet users (43.1 M) and non-users (7.4 M), of whom 53% are disabled

The UK Office for National Statistics (ONS) has produced an infographic

Europe - COCOM report on broadband found 95.7% of EU homes are already passed by at least one fixed broadband network

The European Commission has published a report on broadband as at July 2012.
  • 95.7% of EU homes are already passed by at least one fixed broadband network. 9.1 million homes still do not have fixed broadband coverage, more than 90% of which are in rural areas. Looking at wireless technologies, HSPA is available to 94.9%, while high capacity KA-band satellite broadband has full coverage in all but four EU Member States. This means the EU is close to achieve the target of 100% coverage of at least basic quality of broadband by the end of 2013.
  • Next Generation Access (NGA) technologies capable of providing at least 30 Mbps are available to half of EU homes. This means we are halfway to achieve the objective of making at least 30 Mbps broadband available to all homes by 2020. At the same time, 35 million out of the 40 million rural homes are still waiting for NGA to arrive. Cable Docsis 3.0 is the most widespread NGA technology, covering 36.6% of homes at the end of 2011.
  • Only 2.5% of lines (about 2% of homes) feature speeds of 100 Mbps or above, as opposed to the Digital Agenda target of 50% of European households subscribing to at least 100 Mbps in 2020. For the first time, more than half of all EU fixed broadband lines provide speeds equal to or higher than 10 Mbps.
  • There are six EU Member States (Belgium, Cyprus, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, the UK and Malta), where all households have access to at least basic broadband. NGA is the most widespread in the Netherlands, Malta and Belgium.
  • Fixed broadband take-up (lines as a percentage of population) grew only by 0.5 percentage points and reached 28.2% in July 2012.
  • The Netherlands (39.3%), Denmark (39.1%), France (35.8%) and Germany (33.9%) have the highest penetration rates of fixed broadband. On the other hand, there are four Member States below 20%: Romania (16%), Bulgaria (17.7%), Slovakia (18.5%) and Poland (19.2%). The highest increase in take-up over the last twelve months was recorded in Latvia, Lithuania, Poland and Czech Republic.
  • As for competition on the fixed broadband market, the market share of incumbent operators stood at 42.6% in July 2012 as opposed to 43.5% a year ago. New entrants had 77.4% of all net additions in the first half of 2012.
  • DSL remained the most common broadband technology with a market share of 74.6% in the EU in July 2012. The share of this technology has been decreasing slightly (by 6.2 p.p. since January 2006). Cable modem is the second most common fixed broadband technology with a stable market share of 17% in the EU.
  • Next Generation Access technologies still have a low share in fixed broadband lines. Despite a coverage of 50.1% of all households, only 16% of EU fixed broadband lines are NGA. NGA is most widely used in the Netherlands, Belgium and Malta, and remains marginal in Greece, Cyprus and Italy.
  • Broadband connections are getting faster, but ultrafast internet access is still rare in the EU. Looking at headline speeds, only 12.1% of fixed broadband lines were at least 30 Mbps in July 2012, which corresponds to about 8% of homes.
  • Mobile broadband has been the fastest growing segment in the broadband market, although growth has slowed down in the last six months. The penetration of large screen mobile broadband subscriptions (using dedicated data cards or USB modems) increased to 8.8% (measured as mobile broadband SIM cards as a percentage of population) by July 2012. Looking at all active mobile broadband users (including smart phone users, too), mobile broadband penetration reached 47.8% in July 2012.
  • There are more and more public funding schemes supporting broadband rollout in Europe. In 2012, the European Commission took 21 decisions regarding broadband projects involving public funding. The total amount of broadband State aid approved in 2012 was approximately € 6.5 bn, which is more than three times higher than a year earlier.
Speeds across the EU varied considerably (see figure), with the UK having a respectable percentage over 10 Mbps.

However, it performed less well in the assessment of the higher speeds.

The figures for mobile broadband are, once again, reasonable.

UK - IoD poll argues for faster broadband speeds to increase productivity of British businesses

The Institute of Directors (IoD) has conducted a poll of 1,147 members on business satisfaction with fixed-line and mobile internet services, and the urban/rural divide in connectivity (see press release).

  • Internet speed
    • 57% of IoD members are satisfied with fixed-line download speeds for the business, and 50% with fixed-line upload speeds
    • 25% of IoD members are satisfied with mobile internet download speeds, compared to 45% who are dissatisfied
  • Urban/Rural Divide - Satisfaction rates are significantly lower for IoD members doing business in rural areas:
    • Only 34% of members in rural areas are satisfied with the speed of their fixed-line downloads, while 45% are dissatisfied
    • A mere 13% of rural business leaders are satisfied with mobile download speeds, while 60% are dissatisfied 21% of IoD members in rural areas are satisfied with the reliability of their mobile internet service, compared to 46% who are dissatisfied
  • Economic benefits of faster internet speeds - The polling clearly shows the economic benefits brought by faster internet connections. Significantly increasing internet speeds would:
    • Improve the productivity of 83% of IoD members
    • Encourage 56% to offer more flexible working opportunities
    • Encourage 31% to invest more in their business
    • Encourage 13% to hire more staff

UK - Spectrum auction closed after fifty rounds, Telefonica will provide the greatest coverage

OFCOM has announced the end of the 4G auction for 800 and 2600 MHz spectrum after fifty (50) rounds of bidding and raising £2.3 billion. The details are in the table.

Telefonica (O2):

... is obliged to provide a mobile broadband service for indoor reception to at least 98% of the UK population (expected to cover at least 99% when outdoors) and at least 95% of the population of each of the UK nations – England, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales – by the end of 2017 at the latest.
The BBC reports:
The Office for Budget Responsibility (OBR) had forecast that the auction would raise £3.5bn for the Treasury.

The auction netted far less than the £22bn raised from the 3G auction in 2000.

the culture secretary, Maria Miller, ... saying:

"Spectrum use is worth more than £50bn to the UK economy and 4G mobile broadband is a key part of our digital growth strategy, so I am delighted the auction has been completed."

Winning bidder Spectrum won Base price
Everything Everywhere Ltd 2 x 5 MHz of 800 MHz and
2 x 35 MHz of 2.6 GHz
Hutchison 3G UK Ltd 2 x 5 MHz of 800 MHz £225,000,000
Niche Spectrum Ventures Ltd (a subsidiary of BT Group plc) 2 x 15 MHz of 2.6 GHz and
1 x 20 MHz of 2.6 GHz (unpaired)
Telefónica UK Ltd 2 x 10 MHz of 800 MHz
(coverage obligation lot)
Vodafone Ltd 2 x 10 MHz of 800 MHz,
2 x 20 MHz of 2.6 GHz and
1 x 25 MHz of 2.6 GHz (unpaired)
Total £2,341,113,000
(see also the FT.)

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

USA - FCC Chairman calls for Gigabit communities

Julius Genachowski, chairman of the Federal Communications Commission, writing in Forbes:
Making sure the U.S. has super-fast, high-capacity, ubiquitous broadband networks delivering speeds measured in gigabits, not megabits isn’t just a matter of consumer convenience, as important as that is. It’s essential to economic growth, job creation and U.S. competitiveness.

The good news is that there’s lots of good news. After falling behind Asia and Europe, we’ve regained global leadership in mobile.

The U.S. is the first country to deploy 4G wireless networks at scale and is home to most of the world’s LTE subscribers, making the United States the global test bed for LTE apps and services.

The mobile “apps economy,” which has already created hundreds of thousands of jobs, is a made-in-the-USA phenomenon.

On the wired side, broadband networks capable of 100 megabits per second speeds passed less that 20% of U.S. homes in 2009. That number is now more than 80%, which is near the world lead. By contrast, in Europe, networks capable of 30 megabits per second reach only 50% of households.

Independence - An infographic on telecoms issues and some timings

Friday, February 15, 2013

HMG - Call for input on the information economy (widely defined) - deadline 15 March 2013

The UK government has opened a consultation :
The government intends to publish an information economy strategy this spring. To help develop the strategy, we are calling for views and evidence from small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), both technology based and otherwise. This is one of several ways that we are communicating with a wide range of information economy industry suppliers and users.

The term ‘information economy’ is broadly defined and does not encompass a single sector. For the purposes of this strategy, the working description of the information economy is ‘the part of the economy where digital technologies and information combine to drive productivity and create new growth opportunities across the whole economy’.

This is part of building a wider UK industrial strategy.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Scotland - BT to reach 291,000 premises with FTTC/P by spring 2014 at cost of £2.5 billion

MSN News reports BT was to reach more than a quarter of a million premises with high-speed fibre broadband by spring 2014, with a further investment of £2.5 billion:
BT announced that 291,000 properties across Scotland will have their internet upgraded, taking the number of premises with access to fibre broadband in Scotland to around 1.45 million.

This includes 25 communities such as Ellon, Forres, Blairgowrie, Lochgelly, Coatbridge and East Kilbride.

The project is part of a £2.5 billion development to roll out fibre broadband to two-thirds of homes and businesses across the UK by the end of spring 2014.

BT's local network business Openreach will carry out the work with a use of technologies known as fibre to the cabinet (FTTC) and fibre to the premises (FTTP).

FTTC would permit speeds of up to 80Mbps download, while FTTP with download would permit 330Mbps.

A similar story in Cable.

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Tourism - Visitors complaining about poor broadband, Wi-Fi and mobile availability

The Scotsman reports concern by tourists about mobile and Wi-Fi availability.
VisitScotland’s [on-line] survey of more than 3300 people who took holidays in Scotland found there were complaints about large swathes of the country.

Just over half of those surveyed were happy with the availability of wi-fi and broadband, with only 66 per cent satisfied with the level of mobile phone access during their trip.

Tourism leaders say the issue of poor mobile, wi-fi and broadband access is one of the biggest issues facing the industry, with large parts of the country still being treated as a “backwater” by operators.

See the Scotland Visitor Survey:
The need for information “on the go” is going to increase, so having tablet ready information is a priority. Tablets have seen the greatest increase in usage over the last year so it is important to cater for this fast developing market. Smartphones also remain an important source for obtaining information (31%) and WiFi access is becoming a necessity in tourist accommodation.
29% of all visitors in 2012 used any online platform to talk about their trip, with 19% uploading photos to Facebook, Flckr, etc. but only 3% sending tweets (twitter). After the trip, 47% of all visitors used any online platforms to talk about their trip.

About 17 per cent were fairly or very unsatisfied with Wi-Fi and mobile network availability.

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Mobile broadband - Global mobile data traffic reached 885 Petabytes per month at the end of 2012

Cisco has published its Visual Networking Index: Global Mobile Data Traffic Forecast Update, 2012–2017
The Mobile Network in 2012.
Global mobile data traffic grew 70 percent in 2012. Global mobile data traffic reached 885 Petabytes per month at the end of 2012, up from 520 Petabytes per month at the end of 2011.

The Mobile Network Through 2017
Mobile data traffic will reach the following milestones within the next five years.

  • Monthly global mobile data traffic will surpass 10 Exabytes in 2017.
  • The number of mobile-connected devices will exceed the world's population in 2013.
  • The average mobile connection speed will surpass 1 Mbps in 2014.
  • Due to increased usage on smartphones, handsets will exceed 50 percent of mobile data traffic in 2013.
  • Monthly mobile tablet traffic will surpass 1 Exabyte per month in 2017.
  • Tablets will exceed 10 percent of global mobile data traffic in 2015.

Scotland - SNP govt push for very rapid implementation of independence if they win the referendum to separate from the UK

The Scottish Government has published a document entitle Scotland's Future: from the Referendum to Independence and a Written Constitution.
A paper describing Scotland’s transition to an independent country following a ‘Yes’ vote in the referendum and the process by which an independent Scotland could develop a written constitution
This describes and advocates a headlong rush to independence, one that endangers the operation of regulated markets, including telecommunications.

It is almost impossible that the necessary legislation, new policies, regulatory authority, appellate systems and parliamentary oversight could be designed and put in place between October 2014 and March 2016, the proposed date of independence. These are all essential to comply with the EU acquis communitaire and to ensure the proper continuity of market operations.

See a conference paper on this topic.

Glasgow - Launch of CREATE research network on copyright and new business models in the creative economy

The CREATe Launch and inaugural conference took place on January 31st & February 1st, 2013 in Glasgow. (See videos)
CREATe is the RCUK research centre for copyright and new business models in the creative economy. With an ambitious programme of 40 projects delivered by an interdisciplinary team of academics (law, cultural economics, management, computer science, sociology, psychology, ethnography and critical studies), CREATe is a pioneering academic initiative designed to help the UK cultural and creative industries thrive and become innovation leaders within the global digital economy.
It is based at the University of Glasgow, comprises a consortium:
  • University of East Anglia
  • University of Edinburgh
  • Goldsmiths (University of London)
  • University of Nottingham
  • University of St. Andrews and
  • University of Strathclyde
The research programme at CREATe has seven themes:
  • Good, Bad and Emergent Business Models
  • Openness and Open Business Models
  • Regulation and Enforcement
  • Creators and Performers: Process and Copyright
  • Intermediaries and Platforms
  • User Creation, User Behaviour and Community Norms
  • Human Rights and Public Interest

UK - Foresight report on the future of identities

The BIS Foresight programme has published a report on the Future of Identity: Changing identities in the UK: the next 10 years.
The Foresight project on the Future Identities set out to explore how changes in technology, politics, economics, our environment and demographics will affect our notion of identity.

The aim of the project was to come to a broad and independent scientific view of changing identities in the UK through a synthesis of existing evidence from a range of academic disciplines, including computer science, criminology, the social sciences and the humanities.

The Report identifies key challenges for effective policy making and implementation in a rapidly changing, globalised, technology-rich, and densely networked UK. It focuses on implications for: crime prevention and criminal justice; health, the environment and wellbeing; skills, employment and education; preventing radicalisation and extremism; social mobility; and social integration.

The drivers of change included:
  • Hyper-connectivity
  • Online identities
  • Social media
  • ‘Big data’
  • Cybercrime
  • Biomedical technologies
In particular:
Hyper-connectivity is driving social change and expectations, while bringing people together in new ways. By 2011 there were more than seven billion devices connected to the internet, and numbers are predicted to reach 15 billion by 2015. Sixty per cent of internet users in the UK are now members of a social network site, increasing from only 17% in 2007. By offering virtually unlimited storage capacity, the internet allows people to document any aspect of their lives, creating a wealth of personal data which can be ‘mined’ for insights, by private sector companies and potentially by government. This means that people’s online identities have value in a way that is new

Scotland - OFCOM has issued 6 licences for community radio and 2 local TV channels in Edinburgh and Glasgow

Showing there is continued interest in broadcasting, OFCOM has issued licences to local television stations covering the cities of Edinburgh and Glasgow for a period of twelve years.

Both were issued to STV, which presently holds the franchises for Central and Highland Scotland. These are about to be re-franchised.

It also awarded licences for a further six community radio stations.

  • K-Town FM, Kinglassie and surrounding area, Fife
  • KYFM, Kirkcaldy, Fife
  • Nevis Radio, Fort William and surrounding area, Scottish Highlands
  • Irvine Beat FM, parts of Irvine, North Ayrshire
  • Keith Community Radio, Moray
  • Deveron FM, Banff and Macduff, Aberdeenshire

UK - OFCOM forecasts Internet use to increase by 300 times by 2018

The International Business Times reports that Internet use in the UK would increase by 300 times by 2018.
Phenomenal growth in internet connected devices could see UK web use increase by a factor of 300 over the next five years, as Ofcom looks to fibre and the refarming of television spectrum for a solution.

Speaking at the Institute of Engineering and Technology in central London, Ofcom's chief technical officer Steve Unger said there is no reason to believe that consumer demand for faster and wider-ranging internet coverage will slow, so planning now for the future is critical.

"It's difficult if not impossible to predict future levels of growth, but there's no reason to believe that the virtuous circle of service innovation and capacity growth, which over the last decade has transformed our sector, is about to stop."

USA - Webcast of the FCC "summit" Broadband Adoption and Usage - What Have We Learned?

The Federal-State Joint Conference on Advanced Services, with the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA), held a Summit on February 7, 2013 to identify and discuss best practices learned from broadband adoption programs and academic studies/surveys, and how implementation of these best practices can close the broadband adoption gap among Americans – particularly low-income households, racial and ethnic minorities, seniors, rural residents, residents of Tribal lands and people with disabilities. The agenda listing committed and invited panelists for the Summit is below. In addition, the Summit included a keynote speech by Assistant Secretary of Communications and Information and Administrator of NTIA, Department of Commerce, Lawrence E. Strickling.

See the webcast.

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

USA - Lessons from broadband and the need to develop best practice toolkit

Dr. John Horrigan, Vice President and Media and Technology Institute Director at the Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies has released a statement on broadband adoption

His lessons were that:

  • The previous decade’s fast growth rates in broadband adoption was not sustainable into this decade;
  • Barriers to adoption are more complex than we thought;
  • The non-adoption problem is solvable. The research showed that non-adopters aren’t a hopeless group of (mostly old) people who dislike technology. The right kinds of programs can lure people to broadband;
  • Smartphones help close adoption gaps, but have limits as standalone access devices and are mostly used to add to users’ access means, not as a substitute for wireline.
His future challenges was to sustain the progress, for which he recommended:
  • Developing a “best practice” tool-kit on broadband planning to help states and localities better engage with stakeholders to improve their broadband environment, and;
  • Using reform of the Lifeline/Link-Up program to direct a portion of Lifeline funds to state and local planning and program activities to support broadband.

UK - Virgin Media acquired by John Malone's Liberty Global for £10.3 billion

The Glasgow Herald reports the purchase of Virgin Media by Liberty Global for £10.3bn.

The BBC reported that:

The deal will create the world's largest broadband company, with 25 million customers in 14 countries.

In the UK, it will be the second biggest pay-TV business after BSkyB.

The merger, subject to shareholder and regulatory approval, puts Mr Malone in competition with Rupert Murdoch, whose media empire owns 39% of BSkyB.

Following the deal, about 80% of Liberty Global's revenue will come from five European countries: the UK, Germany, Belgium, Switzerland and the Netherlands.

See also the formal announcement from Liberty Global.

Monday, February 4, 2013

Scottish Government - Infrastructure Investment Plan (IIP) with £65 million funding for broadband

The BBC reported that the Scottish ministers had announced details of spending plans on infrastructure:
This set out capital spending projects in housing, health, education and transport - including A9 and A96 dualling [sic] and next generation broadband.

Opposition parties have branded the plans a "wish list".

Miss Sturgeon (Deputy First Minister) said:
In this financial year we are supporting capital investment of £3.1bn - that's estimated to be supporting around 40,000 jobs across the economy.
The Scottish Govt press release gave some details.

The November 2011 infrastructure investment plan (IIP) has been updated with a range of new documents.

The progress report restated the digital infrastructure action plan:

  • Step Change 2015 – to deliver a next generation digital infrastructure for between 85-90 per cent of premises across Scotland and the best possible uplift in speeds for the remaining 10-15 per cent.
  • World-Class 2020 – to establish a world class digital infrastructure in Scotland that builds upon the platform provided by Step Change 2015, through a sustainable partnership with industry.
  • Demonstrating Digital – to deliver a series of practical infrastructure projects in both urban and rural areas.
  • Choose Digital First - to raise demand for next generation broadband services thereby helping to improve the commercial case for investment in next generation infrastructure.
The Community Broadband (CBS)programme has been assigned £5 million over three years.

The Next Generation Broadband Action Plan has a total of £240 million presently committed:

  • £100 million from UK Government (through BDUK)
  • £60 million from Scottish Government
  • £40 million from local government consequentials (i.e. UK Govt)
  • £20 million EU funding and
  • £20 million from local authorities.