Thursday, 22 October 2009
On such an issue as the fourth utility, finances do not come into it. However, there are always going to be places where fibre is just too difficult to provision and where wireless actually makes far more sense as being the right technology for that job.
There needs to be a Universal Service Obligation that applies to broadband exactly as it does water and electricity. Not "Best effort" depending on what your books look like and your shareholders think, but an OBLIGATION to get that utility to EVERYONE.
And not some half-hearted attempt that suits the world of commerce eg 2Mbps asymmetrical. That is NOT broadband and there is plenty to show now that asymmetry is not what people seek.
Broadband goes way beyond who is making money out of it. It is a UTILITY. There are some who still don't get it. Fine, they will, worry not. You can't escape the pervasive incursion of the internet into our daily lives, and as the public sector eg health and education realise the massive advantages, improved services and cost-savings that can be made by using broadband technology, it will become ever more pervasive and inescapable in every aspect of our world.
FiWi is key to bringing Britain into the digital age, engaging this country into the digital economy, creating 'digital citizens'. It is not some airy fairy pie in the sky notion, although I have been saying FiWi Pie for years to illustrate that there is a piece of this pie for everyone.
However, if we set the bar so low that a huge swathe of the country is reliant on wireless rather than fibre, we are doing ourselves no favours, now or in the future. The reality is that the future is FIBRE, and ignoring that fact, or shoving it under the carpet, won't make it go away.
The FiWi mix needs to be heavily skewed towards fibre, with wireless giving us the opportunity to connect the remaining few, as well as providing a wireless cloud so that everyone everywhere can connect using their wireless device. I'll say it again - wireless should not be the core technology used as the primary connection mechanism, except in a very few and exceptional places in this country.
This country needs to work together to deliver what is required, not just by our generation but by the NEXT GENERATION. It means thinking and working together to find the right solutions. Not allowing commerce to take the lead or set a glass ceiling for its own ends. Not allowing government to stymie innovation whilst it pads out the very depleted coffers. Not allowing communities to suffer at the expense of either of the aforementioned. Not ignoring the very real grassroots and industry expertise available in this country, purely to win votes or cash in.
What we need in this country is CO-OPERATION between all the stakeholders to get on with fibre and JFDI. Anyone who thinks 2Mbps is sufficient now, in 2012 or beyond, will either need to sit on the sidelines and watch, or change their thinking, fast.
Britain needs people who get IT. Who understand the scale of the task we need to undertake to firstly catch up with other countries and then, hopefully, to compete or surpass them. And who realise the time for meetings, quangos and conferences, talking about and extolling the virtues of 'true broadband' but resulting in little action, is over.
Work together and we could have a world class infrastructure our children will be proud of. Ignore the issues and continue with each party selfishly pursuing its own ends and agendas, and we will end up with a nationwide disaster that impacts every single sector of our country.