The Definition of UK Superfast Next Generation Broadband - Introduction Page 1 - ISPreview
The Definition of UK Superfast Next Generation Broadband
By: Mark Jackson - October 25th, 2010 : Page 2 -of- 8
"the same confusion which has so blighted attempts to define "broadband" is now also reaching fever pitch with Next Generation Access"

what is uk superfast next generation access nga broadband However an inability to define something so common place as broadband could have serious repercussions for future generations of "super-fast" Next Generation Access (NGA) services. After all, just what is "super-fast"? ISPreview.co.uk has spent the past couple of months talking to industry groups and ISPs in the hopes of finding out, here's what we uncovered.

Politics and UK Next Generation Access (NGA) Definitions

It will probably come as no surprise that the same confusion which has so blighted attempts to define "broadband" is now also reaching fever pitch with Next Generation Access (NGA) services too, which are often referenced as being "super-fast" (annoyingly, more than a few UK ISPs have called their services super-fast for the best part of the past 8 years). Still, these currently represent two of the most readily used terms for identifying the new generation of broadband internet connections, but what do they mean?

The previous Labour government effectively tried to define it, through their Digital Economy Act 2010 (DEA), by setting a broad target of 50Mbps to reach 90% of the UK by 2017. The pre-election Liberal Democrats preferred to set the target at 40Mbps+, while the pre-election Conservative party even briefly mooted a figure of 100Mbps (note: this was to be made available to "most" of the country instead of 90%).

Since May 2010's General Election, which also resulted in a new set of NGA broadband policies and invalidated some previous 'Labour' targets, specific definitions have been hard to come by. The DEA text itself doesn't strictly mention either "50Mbps" or "2017", allowing politicians freedom to play around with the targets and play they did.

Shortly after winning the 2010 General Election the new coalition government, made up of Conservative and Liberal Democrat party MP's (Minsters), revealed their grand vision. This set a target of 2015 (delayed from 2012 due to funding problems) for making a minimum broadband speed of 2Mbps available to everybody in the country. They also promised to introduce measures that would "ensure the rapid roll-out of superfast broadband across the country" (Coalition Manifesto), but at no point did they set any firm goals or target a specific speed or technology.

Related News
20th May 2010
New UK Coalition Government Adopts Tory Superfast Broadband Plans

8th June 2010
Jeremy Hunt Paper Launches Governments Superfast UK Broadband Plan

15th July 2010
Broadband Delivery UK Event Delays 2Mbps Internet Speed for all Until 2015

28th September 2010
Government to Reveal New UK Universal Broadband Policy Before Christmas

It is critical to understand the political dynamic here. Politicians enjoy having goal posts that can be shifted on a whim and what better than one that lacks a clear definition, such as "super-fast" NGA broadband. However this does present somewhat of a problem. In order to deploy such a service you would first need to differentiate it from what already exists.

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