The UK Government has today published Stephen Carter’s interim report on Digital Britain (see previous post). I am a big supporter of what the Government is trying to do here though it is such a huge task or set of tasks that it remains to be seen how successful they will be.
The report is 80 pages long with an 11 page executive summary so I need here to focus on what matters in my world:
- Universal Service Obligation to provide all households with a 2Mbps broadband capability by 2012. This is independant of technology so it could be via fixed/mobile/wired/wireless means (in fact any technology that can make it happen – high speed carrier pigeon flocks!?). The detail of how to fund this will be developed.
- Check out the regulatory/government assistance needed to provide the right environment for investment in a Next Generation Access network. I guess this really is already probably underway following the Caio report. It looks as if it includes making it easier/cheaper to roll out fibre by allowing use of drains etc
- Establishment of a Rights Agency to help industry put together a framework for promoting legal music downloading. Also to assist with the education process (eg with parents) to inform of the illegalities of P2P music piracy and to try and facilitate a way for the ISP industry to participate in the policing of this problem. The Government seems to have stopped short of forcing ISPs to cut off the broadband connections or persistent offenders. This has been somewhat of a sticking point for large consumer ISPs who might have incurred considerable costs in having to do this. I should also note that the whole “Rights Agency” proposition is also of concern because it smacks of adding overhead and cost to an ISPs business.
- What is also interesting though not immediately directly relevant to me is the idea of setting up a digital distribution platform organisation that could enable content providers to compete directly with the BBC. This might be in the way of an open, standards based iplayer equvalent.
Also referred to is the establishment of the UK Council for Child Internet Safety (UKCCIS) as part of the media literacy section. The report is perhaps a little light on policy in respect of the wider online economy. For example new advertising models such as offered by Phorm are not discussed as far as I can see. There is yet time for this to be included in the final report.
The whole document is worth a read for anyone involved in internet and communications markets in the UK.
You can download the pdf here digital_britain_interimreportjan09.