Sunday, July 21, 2013

UK - Parliament hears complaints about the exclusionary, anticompetitive behaviour of BT in the Govt's scheme for rural broadband

V3 reported on the recent hearing by the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) on the rural broadband initiative of the Department of Culture Media and Sport (DCMS):
The lack of transparency on pricing was also discussed by Malcolm Corbett, chief executive of the Independent Networks Co-operative Association (INCA) and Nicholas James, chief executive of UK Broadband, who cited numerous concerns with BT.

Corbett went as far as to deliver the standout line of the sessions, likening BT to a ‘vampire death squid’ for the way it acts towards smaller, local providers.

The accusations were that DCMS had modified the terms of the agreement in ways that favoured BT to the exclusion of all others, but assigning small areas and by requiring only 90 per cent coverage.

In its report PC Pro completed one of the witnesses:

The maestro in question is Nicholas James, chief executive of UK Broadband, a company that wanted to spend £150 million on improving Britain’s fibre network, but couldn’t. Yesterday, he appeared before the Public Accounts Committee, and in only ten minutes destroyed the credibility of the government body – Broadband Delivery UK (BDUK) – that’s spending almost half a billion pounds of public money on next-generation access.
The Daily Telegraph reported
Telecoms executives attacked the Government for “moving the goalposts” on a subsidy scheme to provide superfast broadband to rural homes and businesses so that BT was effectively awarded £1.2bn in public money without competition.
The video of the full hearing can be viewed here.

Saturday, July 6, 2013

UK - Regulator consulting on cutting the cost of a customer switching broadband suppliers and

Ofcom has proposed and has launched a consultation on measures to promote competition among superfast broadband providers:
Under proposals for consultation, the wholesale cost of switching a customer from one superfast broadband supplier to another would fall by up to 80%. In addition, the minimum length of the wholesale contract between BT and the switched customer’s new supplier would be reduced from a year to just one month.

The measures form part of Ofcom’s Fixed Access Market Reviews, a wide-ranging consultation on the wholesale telecoms markets used by a range of companies to offer telephone and broadband services to UK consumers.

The consultation on the Fixed Access Market Reviews closes on 25 September 2013.

UK - NAO report forecasts 2-year delay on rural broadband availability, BT is sole supplier and costs are not transparent to HMG

The National Audit Office (NAO) has published a report on a government initiative to improve access to broadband in rural areas:
A government programme to make superfast broadband available to 90 per cent of premises in each area of the UK is currently expected to be delivered nearly two years later than initially planned, the National Audit Office has reported.

The design of the competitive framework had the advantages of ensuring affordability and transferring risk but, together with State aid conditions and other commercial factors, led to potential suppliers withdrawing from the bidding process. BT was left as the only active participant in the framework and is likely to win all 44 local projects.

In addition, the Department has secured only limited transparency over the costs in BT’s bids. It does not have strong assurance that costs, take-up assumptions and the extent of contingency contained in BT’s bids are reasonable.

The project funding contributed by BT has so far been lower than originally modelled – the Department now expects the company to provide just 23 per cent of the overall projected funding of £1.5 billion, some £207 million less than it modelled in 2011. At the same time, by the end of the programme, BT is likely to have benefited from £1.2 billion of public money.

UK - Government report on new ways to use public sector information in response to inquiry report

The UK Government has published a response to the review of public services, which explores new ways to use public sector information. The review was launched in October 2012 by Stephan Shakespeare, Chairman of the Data Strategy Board and CEO of YouGov.
The Deloitte analysis9 which accompanied the Shakespeare Review suggests a figure of £1.8bn on the direct economic benefit from use of PSI and a figure of £6.8bn if broader economic and social impacts are taken into account. The next phase is to step up our efforts and provide business with the clarity and certainty of the flow of data to encourage investment in new opportunities.

The key issue is that central Government will not have all the insight into which datasets are the most useful to businesses nor the possibilities of how this data could be used by citizens and community groups. In addition, by harnessing the skills and appetite of people throughout the public sector and in business, we are more likely to be able to release larger amounts of data. This argues for a plan which is collaborative and open with clear principles guiding it and where public sector bodies are held to account to their commitments in a transparent way.

The Information Economy Strategy was published separately.

UK - Technology Strategy Board has published an analysis of its Future Cities Demonstrator Programme

The Technology Strategy Board (TSB) has published a report, Solutions for Cities: An analysis of the Feasibility Studies from the Future Cities Demonstrator Programme:
It presents a detailed picture of some of the future visions of UK cities, the challenges they face, and the opportunities they have to deliver an improved quality of life for their citizens.

Just over a year ago the TSB launched its Future Cities Demonstrator competition, challenging UK cities to show how they would integrate their city systems to create better places to live and work. The report, prepared by Arup, draws out the common trends and themes that unite these unique city visions of a smarter, more sustainable future. By identifying these common themes, we can identify areas for future collaborations between cities and industry, new challenges for the research base, and new business opportunities for innovative companies.