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Tuesday, 19 August 2008

Apply this to bandwidth?

The announcement yesterday that Scotland intend to aggregate the government and public sector demands for electricity to get better value for public money should start to raise questions about why governments and public sector across England and the UK are not doing exactly the same for bandwidth. And not just for public sector use.

It has long been an issue, particularly since the kerfuffle about Learning Stream contracts etc, that public sector uses public money to purchase access services eg to the internet, and provide connectivity to councils, schools (in the case of the Learning Stream contracts) and so on, but is unable to use/share the spare capacity on those networks to connect the local communities. It is a well-known fact that many public sector buildings have plentiful connections, provided through expensive leased lines and fibre, which lie dormant evenings and weekends (and in August judging by the number of out of office messages coming back from public sector at present!), whilst the local communities often suffer impoverished IP connectivity.

This is often down to a failure by those negotiating the contracts for public sector to get the best deal, red herrings about security, or failing to understand that these organisations and agencies are there to serve the community in all ways. In fact, there is a statutory duty to do so. In other words the resources they buy with our money should be there to serve all of us.

Communities (businesses and consumers) struggled in the first phase of broadband to get connected, and are going to struggle now, whilst existing infrastructure is in place, which, if demand were aggregated across all sectors, could prove the catalyst to encourage the necessary investment in best value networks.

Bandwidth costs are now approaching zero, (although you would never believe it from the costs apparently associated with overstepping your 'unlimited' cap), and demand aggregation for such, if the Scottish electricity model were applied, would lead to the UK having best value networks. Yes, the ISPs, incumbents etc would see a drop in profit per MB but overall we would see far more MB accessible, affordable, and hence used.

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