The Government has today called for feedback on their plans to develop a future digital communications infrastructure strategy, which aims to design a long-term plan for building even faster broadband networks, supporting the roll-out of IPv6 Internet addresses and developing 5G based Mobile Broadband technology etc.
The terms of reference for this strategy, which seeks to “ensure that the UK remains a leading digital nation“, broadly sets out which areas the Government intends to focus upon as part of its effort to keep the country’s national infrastructure up-to-date for the next 10 – 15 years and beyond.
1.1 In particular the strategy shall include an assessment of:
a) A high level view of the UK’s current position, comprising:
- Existing and planned committed provision of digital communications infrastructure assets (both privately and publicly funded); and
- The supply market for the provision of and access to digital communications infrastructure.
b) A high level view of what our infrastructure might look like after 10-15 years and future demand, taking into account scenarios for potential future data volumes including:
- The technology available and required that the strategy should provide for. This should take into account known future developments, for example, the likely take-up of IPv6 alongside IPv4, white space radio technology, big data, cloud computing, fixed-mobile convergence, future mobile (5G), the Internet of Things, smart utility networks and smart cities;
- The needs of consumers, businesses (including small businesses) either as consumers or suppliers of communications services – the science and research community, and the public sector;
- The provision of digital communications infrastructure including the efficient use of current and planned infrastructure;
- The scope and level of competition in the provision of and access to digital communications infrastructure;
- Any relevant comparisons with strategies set out by other countries; and
- Market developments in other key countries
- Any relevant environmental issues, such as planning, power consumption etc.
c) How to ensure that the UK takes advantage of the growth potential that this sector provides, including:
- ‘Early mover advantage’ in developments in the digital age;
- The delivery of benefits that are enabled by the provision of world class digital communications infrastructure;
- Supporting initiatives on boosting innovation in the provision and use of digital communications infrastructure; and
- The UK’s global competiveness in this sector
d) The steps required to facilitate and encourage private sector investment in digital communications infrastructure.
e) Developments in the regulatory environment including:
- The role of Ofcom in facilitating and encouraging investment in digital communications infrastructure;
- Potential regulatory interventions that may be required to facilitate the Government’s vision; and
- Potential developments in pan-European electronic communications regulation, such as the Framework Directive, and including the State Aid environment.
f) The role of Government including:
- How best to co-ordinate the Government’s policies, programmes and investment which support or depend upon digital communications infrastructure;
- The policy interventions that the Government may need to make e.g. to address any market failure, to ensure that the infrastructure is in place to deliver the vision;
- Protection of the security and resilience of the digital communications infrastructure, building on existing Government initiatives in this area.
An interim report, which should reveal some of what the Government actually plans to do, isn’t due to be published until July 2014 and that will then become the subject of a further consultation before the final report is published in December 2014. In the meantime those interested in contributing should email DCIS@culture.gsi.gov.uk by 28th March 2014.
So now’s probably a good time for all those advocates of ultrafast true fibre optic broadband (FTTH/P/B) networks to have their say, although so far BT still seems to be setting its sights on G.fast (aka – FTTC2), FTTdp and related enhancements that still require a little copper cable in their diets. But come 2030 might we finally take fibre all the way? Time will tell but Government’s and commercial reality often set the approach.
Digital Communications Infrastructure Strategy (MS Word)