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Seasonal Greetings from Groupe Intellex PDF Print E-mail
Written by David Brunnen   
Friday, 18 December 2009 14:21

Head of CommunicationsIn the great British tradition of burying bad news there’s always a flurry of reports just prior to the holidays.  Yesterday’s ‘news’ from Ofcom that they’d discovered the parlous state of  the UK’s broadband access infrastructure was today buried under a flurry of snow across the South East – causing mayhem on roads and rail and tempting thousands to try working from home.

One unscheduled day in a household with kids frozen out of school and a broadband service that is little more than the old narrow band with lip-gloss; yes, welcome to the reality of ‘Digital Britain’ where apparently we lead Europe in watching TV and sending mobile text messages, if you can get a signal.

Somehow it’s not surprising that Scandinavian countries seem to cope better with both snow and investing in fibre to the home.  It’s not that their incumbent Telco’s have any better vision than their counterparts elsewhere – the reality is that in these countries, where local self-sufficiency is more often tested, communities have long learned not to wait around for incumbents to innovate or regulators to wake up.

There are many ways of assessing the state of the nation in matters of broadband.  Many folk, less inclined to gild the governmental lily, would be surprised at Ofcom’s optimistic assessment of the UK as a digitally advanced nation.  The Oxford Said Business School Study rated the UK as 25th globally on their ‘leadership index’ (apparently we use more of what little we have) but only 48th in terms of preparedness for the demand in 2-3 years time.

Given that it will take 3 years for much to change, and that technology never stands still, the prospect of catching up seems as remote a possibility as the introduction of broadband-enabled money-saving remote monitoring prescriptions for the improvement of our health and social care services.

But, as I’ve noted before, our tourism industry thrives on quaintness.  Where else could curious visitors come to marvel at ‘the old world’ and study the impacts of over-centralised economic management and complete confusion of utilities and services?

Today’s London-centric radio commentary on city affairs – whether banks will leave for better bonus pastures overseas – was reduced to glum silent consideration of what else the UK could possibly do if we let this financial hub fly off.   Maybe the would-have-been striking BA cabin crews were, after all, thinking of our best interests – though even they must now be relieved not to have more time on their hands stuck at home without alternative connections.

Meanwhile, the climate in Copenhagen seems remarkably reluctant to change, but ‘no winter lasts for ever; no spring skips its turn’ – so, readers, relax, raise a glass to 2010 and take time to dream of a coming decade of digital discovery.

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 See also this year’s most popular Groupe Intellex editorial - 'Fibre more than Faster - part 2’

 Further information on the Oxford Said Business School international Broadband Quality Study (BQS) is available on request.  The study suggests that the telecoms access infrastructures in Sweden and The Netherlands (where local independently-managed Open Access FTTH networks are increasingly regarded as the norm) are better placed to meet current and future requirements.   

In the BQS study the assessment of broadband quality combines download, upload and latency performance measurements.  It looks at current performance and its relevance for today's and future application needs.   The analysis looks beyond the differences in advertised and actual download speeds (a failure of marketing regulation) and shines a light on infrastructure inadequacies - and failures of competition policy and market mechanisms to bring forward investment in new access utilities.   

 

 

Last Updated on Friday, 18 December 2009 16:43
 

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