Britain’s Superfast Broadband Future: what do you think?

17:10 in News by Louis Mosley

A very important announcement was made this morning.

Jeremy Hunt MP, Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport, launched the government’s new broadband strategy: Britain’s Superfast Broadband Future, which outlines how the government plans to deliver its pledge of the best superfast broadband in Europe for Britain by 2015.

The document is packed with useful information and well worth reading. Chapter 1 outlines many of the benefits of having a superfast broadband connection. Chapter 3 is a quick run through of the technological options.

At the heart of the document is a government promise to give every rural community ‘a point to which fibre is delivered’, called a ‘digital hub’.

In return, the government asks that communities take the lead in stimulating demand for superfast broadband and, where necessary, extend and even build their own networks.

This is close to the deal offered in the Eden Declaration, but – as ever – the devil will be in the detail.

An important question remains unanswered: what exactly is a ‘digital hub’?

The document promises to put ‘the people who will eventually use the infrastructure in a position to shape it’. So, what do you think?

Our very own Lindsey says we should just re-write the strategy document before it’s too late.

Adrian Wooster, whom some of you may remember from the Rheged Conference, is more optimistic.

Tref thinks that the ‘digital hubs’ will simply be re-branded BT cabinets (FTTC). He’s afraid that this will shut out innovative competitors and leave consumers with a copper-based solution for a long time to come.

Charles Arthur in the Guardian thinks that until the government resolves the issue of the ‘fibre tax’ and gives other suppliers access to BT’s ducts and poles, the market will fail to deliver what the government wants.

So, now is our chance to ‘shape’ our ‘digital hubs’.

In the end, we’ll pay for them, so we better make sure that they are what we want and what we need.

Here is the relevant paragraph from the document to discuss:

4.4 BDUK will also explore the viability of a broadband community hub at a local level – which could provide the means of extending networks where the community will either take responsibility for the actual civil engineering of the network or take greater control over managing network elements. Networks can then be extended over time to provide enhanced access to broadband for individual premises in a variety of ways. For example, an operator’s cabinet can be equipped to support the splicing of fibre builds into the access network. Interfaces can be made available such that wireless networks or indeed community managed femtocells can be added to the network. The latter needs to be agreed with industry and is subject to sufficient demand and support by communities.