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The final Digital Britain report – your views?

June 16, 2009
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Now that the final Digital Britain report has been released by Ben Bradshaw and Lord Carter, we’re looking for your views so that we can put together a response to the report.

In the comment section below please state:
1. Your over all impressions (excellent, good, satisfactory, bad etc.)
2. Your thoughts in more detail – either on a specific area or overall. If anything, what was missed?
3. Possibly suggest where we should take things next

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11 Comments
  1. jebavarde permalink
    June 16, 2009 6:36 pm

    PiratePartyUK’s response to the report: http://pirateparty.org.uk/PR_PPUK_160609.pdf

  2. June 16, 2009 6:39 pm

    http://pirateparty.org.uk/PR_PPUK_160609.pdf

    PIRATE PARTY OF THE UNITED KINGDOM’s RESPONSE TO THE DIGITAL BRITAIN REPORT!

  3. June 16, 2009 7:53 pm

    It has been quite a day hasn’t it? It started at 8am with a live interview on Radio Lancashire. The reporter hadn’t a clue what I was talking about. It continued with a tv report for the BBC. They had no idea what broadband was all about and hadn’t heard of twitter. There is no awareness of what broadband actually is, and this is being reflected in all the news programmes today both on radio and tv. The whole issue of Next Generation access is being overshadowed by the strawmans on the media and the pirates. Anyway, to continue:

    1. Your over all impressions (excellent, good, satisfactory, bad etc.)

    After the preliminary read through I thought it sounded good, but then quickly realised it won’t deliver any of the things it talks about. They should cut out the spin, tell it like it is. Instead they blather on about us being able to access high speed next gen broadband where in actual fact it isn’t going to happen at all. Para 44 says what will happen, but then that is what we would say, so you can’t disagree, but then in the next breath they say they are gonna ignore that and let people suffer for years with a couple of meg. so they say they want NGA, but don’t do anything to provide it or to stimulate it happening. It will take 20 years for the 30% who are without access to finally get something bordering on NGA. Is that their goal? Have they realised this? I don’t think any of them actually ‘get it’. None of the people either in govt or media realise that yes, a 2meg connection to yourself (a leased line) fairly close to an exchange will let you stream Iplayer, access online banking and Egov. What none of them understand is that up to 70 people are sharing that line with you. As long as all they are doing is simple surfing, tweeting, emailing etc then all should be well. BUT if four of those users start streaming video (youtube, Iplayer etc) then that uses up the TOTAL capacity of that line, and all the others can’t get access. OR the four find that the others take priority and the Iplayer won’t stream. Or all 70 go slow. It depends on the traffic shaping, throttling and capping that the ISP has put on the line. This is a key fact, and has not been addressed in the report, simply because I don’t think they understand that is what is happening, because even today a BT spokesman said on a BBC website that 99.6% of the country have access to broadband. Most ministers and civil servants responsible for the report believe the bull from BT and Ofcom. The truth is that the infrastructure is simply not coping in many areas both urban and rural.

    2. Your thoughts in more detail – either on a specific area or overall. If anything, what was missed?

    All the report is suggesting is that money is taken off the people to fund BT to patch up an obsolete network, which will only keep us at the level we are now. Govt have admitted (thanks to CBN and SamKnows and Thinkbroadband) that the actual figures for notspots and crapspots is 11%, (in reality it is 15% but vastly different from the 0.4% figure they were gonna run with until proved wrong earlier this month)
    It’s possible that the only money the Govt will actually spend on NGA will be the £150k grant to the INCA framework; contrast with tables on pp62,3 in report, which means the money will in fact go to BT to install new face plates in homes, replace old wiring etc. and patch up the existing legacy network, totally wasting money on something that is obsolete. For BT to install a faceplate they could just as easily install a media converter for fibre, and replace the copper to that home through existing access and it would cost no extra. It is totally wrong. They are thinking inside the box. Imagining what they want, then settling for nothing. This is probably on the advice of BT, who are protecting their revenue.

    3. Possibly suggest where we should take things next
    After a day like this I have no idea, I didn’t hold out much hope for action but never dreamt the government would be so short sighted. It wouldn’t be so bad if they said ‘this is all we can afford, we will have to make do with it and make the best of it’ but they didn’t. They paint a picture of a country that is going to get NGA, and how many benefits there will be. They want to stimulate digital inclusion but aren’t going to supply the means to do it.
    All in all I can’t believe they have not realised that you can’t promise the world and deliver nothing wrapped up in fancy words.
    As a finishing note, the media and piracy issues are just smokescreens for the infrastructure failure. The media are big enough to sort themselves out, and the piracy is something that no amount of government intervention can address. More money of ours will be wasted trying to sort it. Leave it to sort itself and it will. The agents of the artists charge vast amounts of money for their service, they can spend some on lawyers to chase down perpetrators if they choose to. It isn’t our problem. If they didn’t charge so much then people wouldn’t pirate stuff. O man, this is such a mess. thank goodness there are lots of people involved in the unconferences and together we can get a proper report out of all this for the next government to sort out. At least it will focus us on a solution?

  4. June 17, 2009 9:38 am

    Surely technologies such as WiMax would be a much cheaper solution to get remote villages connected to high speed broadband rather than the taxpayer having to subsidise laying new cables?

  5. June 17, 2009 9:42 am

    Cyberdoyle, you are bang on.

  6. June 17, 2009 11:06 am

    1.) Highlights
    The creation of a Universal Fund for the circa £15pm affordable 2MB service, and the creation of a separate fund for what I take to be rural FTTC (a £40- £50pm) service are significant steps and need to applauded.
    Anti-piracy proposals look unworkable, but they to be argued out.
    2. More detail
    Will follow,
    3. Next steps for Unconference.
    Progress needs to be acknowlaged.
    The DB report explains how encumbents (media & telcoes) surivive the Internet rather than embrace it. The tweaks and remedies provide a framework for affordable Universal Access and upgrade of rural infrastructure to FTTC (i think).
    What is not there is the scary bit about the internet. We pay per household £95 per month for TV/Mobile/Fixed/Broadband as discrete ‘services’. As users the internet represents (24×7) connectivity (not speed) and non-billable events. Legacy services represent micro billable events. Billing events is perhaps the biggest cost of running legacy services.
    Progress for users would mean substituing legacy service costs for better connectivity, so we can do what the internet protocols permit which is transfer ‘bits’.
    At the root of thistransformation has to be a transformation of the regulatory regime, which will cause operators to move from models which define discrete and restrictive billable events (calls, sms, messages, retrieving messages, roaming) to delivering 24×7 connectivity of our ‘bits’.
    I think the unconference should offer to rewrite Ofcoms remit to deliver a ‘bit’ commons from the plethora of legacy market definitions, and thus transform the nations definition of networking.

  7. June 17, 2009 6:39 pm

    I’m waiting to get an opportunity to read the full report before commenting, but in the meantime can I draw your attention to this comment from Wo King of the Cornwall Social Media Café:

    http://cornwallcafe.wordpress.com/2009/06/11/next-generation-access-broadband-for-cornwall-your-questions/#comment-59

    And also here is my blog post containing the debrief that I gave at the Cornwall Social Media Café meeting last night:

    http://web2watch.blogspot.com/2009/06/digital-britain-debrief.html

  8. June 17, 2009 10:42 pm

    In general: I’d give it 5/10. Some positive steps and legislation, especially around piracy which will be welcomed by music industry particularly and finally some movement on tax breaks for computer games which will help the development industry grow in the downturn. I welcome the clear, immediate timetable for action and commitment to legislation adaptation – this sets this policy leagues above other recent policy e.g. Creative Britain, Innovation Nation.

    Specifically:
    Needs more commitment to investing in wifi solutions for cities and rural wimax rather than focus on fixed line solutions
    Still not ambitious enough plans for high speed access, both in speeds and rollout to rural areas
    Commitment to digital radio switchover laudable, but what is benefit, seems technology and market is too far behind, this may be an expensive white elephant
    Suggestions on Channel 4’s position still seem a little vague
    Not any focus on content creation – both the tools, skills and upload speeds we need to address this on a consumer rather than professional levels

    What next for the unconferences:
    I feel after this final comment submission, we have done our bit and proved that collective digitally initiated dialogues are an intrinsic aspect of citizen engagement. It will be useful to convene similar networks at an early stage around future government policy and to gain their buy-in for utilising the groups’ findings.

  9. etvmediagroup permalink
    June 18, 2009 1:11 pm

    Perhaps it was too much to hope for, but after the PR build up, the publication of Digital Britain has proved to be something of a damp squib. Given the opportunity to look into the future, Carter has instead responded with some tinkering at the edges and preservation of the status quo – especially when it comes to media companies. Carter rejoices in the social policy planning he proposes but I think we will look back on this with some amusement in a few years’ time. It already looks similar to the social market planning of the 1970s for steel-making and car production and I suspect too much attention has already been focussed on propping up existing media companies (aka C4 and ITV) rather than asking the fundamental questions of what are they for in the new age. That’s a more difficult question and a much more important one. Broadcasters will face many new problems over the next five years and they generally have no answers to the many challenges technology and consumer behaviour are creating. The truth is broadcasters are becoming redundant and state aid cannot be the answer. Remember British Leyland?

    Local news is an area where Carter has bowed to political pressure and top-sliced the licence fee to provide ‘plurality in local news’ Why? If local news is part of our broadcast requirements (and local M.P.’s do like to get their face on local TV) let’s mandate the BBC to increase the quality, localness and availability of local news. It’s just what the BBC is for- making television that society deems to be important that the market does not want to provide. Why do we need plurality? If we don’t trust the BBC to do a good job let’s start talking about the future of the BBC and what it is for a new digital age. Oops that would be a big question and one that neither the Government or Carter wants to get into- particularly when both are looking for new jobs. Bailing out Channel 4 with taxpayers money (and that’s what a merger with BBCWW means, whatever the lawyers will argue in Brussels) is another example of muddled thinking. Just because C4 has done good things in an analogue past doesn’t mean it has a guaranteed place in our media future. The establishment has spoken but its the people who will decide how digital Britain really shapes up.

  10. June 18, 2009 7:44 pm

    Deeply disappointed by the lack of ambition and faith in the ability of British people to generate content or to understand the degree of change that could potentially arise over the next few years and the economic opportunities arising from it. Some positive aspects on infrastructure but with cyberdoyle on the disappointment in actually delivering specific commitments. Longer rant over here:

    http://blog.openwetware.org/scienceintheopen/2009/06/18/why-the-digital-britain-report-is-a-missed-opportunity/

  11. King Dumb permalink
    July 6, 2009 2:10 pm

    Hey, Just to highlight a wee mistake with your ‘Digital Britain’ banner, I don’t know if it is just a bad photoshop job but the seem to be a bit of Ireland included in the map.

    I think you will find that Britain [ both the Digital and AFK worlds ] is the island east of the European mainland, and contains England, Scotland and Wales.

    Of course if you change the title of the unconference/blog to ‘Digital UK Unconference’ the map would be correct !

    Regards,

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