The economic downturn seems likely to spring some surprises in the internet world . In an interview with the Guardian Newspaper over the weekend Prime Minister Gordon Brown discussed his plans to fund the employment of 100,000 people in the UK. He was quoted as comparing the need to invest in a high speed digital infrastructure for the UK with the way that Franklin D Roosvelt spent his way out of the US recession in the 1930s by investing in capital projects.
This comes at the same time as a Sunday Times article that suggests that Lord Carter, the UK Communications Minister is about to do away with BT’s Universal Service Obligation. This is the law whereby BT has to guarantee to provide a fixed line communications service to everyone that wants it in the UK.
It would appear that the large mobile operators are likely to have to share the cost of this with BT. In difficult to service rural areas the fixed line network could be replaced with mobile technology.
What will be interesing is to see who is likely to benefit from Gordon Brown’s investment plan. I would imagine that there will be a number of network operators lining up with their hands outstretched for Government money. We shouldn’t assume that it will just be BT, although they are clearly well placed to take advantage.
With mobile operators having to support USO it looks to me as if we will be going back to the old days where a network operator (BT in those days) was both a fixed and mobile player This time round perhaps we will see a true competitor to BT emerging from the pack.