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NextGen Roadshow 2010 – Belfast PDF Print E-mail
Written by David Brunnen   
Monday, 21 June 2010 07:25

Head of TelecomsBelfast always surprises - and not just, as on this rare occasion, with glorious weather but with the differences that any visitor from mainland UK cannot fail to notice.  Tuning one’s ears to local accents is nothing compared to the recalibration needed to understand, particularly at business conferences, the viewpoints and perspectives of the local speakers and delegates.

Seeing things from different angles can be invigorating but difficult to anticipate - and woe betide the traveller whose presentation honed in England seems suddenly out of kilter for an audience looking at it sideways.

In this, the second of INCA's NextGen 2010 Roadshows, the intensity of the programme, with no time for questions between speakers, gave little opportunity for realignments and course corrections to match the local viewpoints.  It was in the coffee and lunch breaks that real work was done – although even here the free exchange of views with all these visitors from a distant planet was at times unlikely.

But then, in some ways, the roadshow reportedly worked even better than in Somerset and the truth is that all these mind-stretching events demand local adaptation – the notion of a generic roadshow with standardised content for all audiences is not perhaps entirely fit for purpose.

I went just a little further – irreverently suggesting that the NextGen tag was also inappropriate – but this was a generic thought.  Many folk talked of local access fibre networks as being ‘transformational’.  I argued (as in recent editorial This is not an upgrade’) that we are not talking about another evolutionary step but of an entirely new species.

And everyone claimed that they were talking about ‘Open Networks’ but, like the earlier diluted redefinition of capacities that qualified for the title of ‘broadband’, one person’s Open was for many others Closed.

And while everyone claimed to be concerned for community cohesion few could perceive them as sufficiently cohesive to act as anything other than marginal interference agents in the deployment of solutions designed by distant experts.

But, at the last, in the round-up of views, the repeated recitation of hard-line positions said much about the defensiveness of nay-sayers, the challenges of creating an economy less-dependent on public-sector deployment and the huge scope for communities building on a sense of local identity.

Imaginations were stretched.  They will not go back to their original shape.


The INCA NextGen Roadshow will visit the East of England on July 6th at Newmarket, Suffolk.   Full details here.

INCA - the Independent network Cooperative Association - 'Building Next Generation Broadband Britain'


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