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UK ISP Entanet Calls for “Failing” Digital Minister Ed Vaizey to be Replaced

Wednesday, July 13th, 2016 (9:08 am) - Score 483
entanet uk

Entanet has called for the new UK Prime Minister, Theresa May, to sack the Digital Economy Minister, Ed Vaizey. The ISP claims that Ed is “failing to engage adequately” with ISPs and suffers from a “lack of experience” in the telecoms field, which they believe means he has “not been effective“.

The often outspoken ISP is of course no stranger to tackling difficult issues head-on and they’ve previously highlighted concerns with the newly proposed Digital Economy Bill (check our summary), as well as the Government’s controversial Investigatory Powers Bill (here) and various other measures that impact broadband providers.

Many ISPs, especially smaller providers, often complain that the Government frequently fails to adequately consult them about changes that could affect the industry and we’ve also seen this thought being echoed by the UK Internet Service Providers Association (ISPA). As such Entanet’s new Open Letter to Theresa May calls for a change.

Neil Watson, Entanet’s Head of Service, said:

“Without really shaking things up and creating a separate Department of Communications (wherein the artsier elements of culture, media and creative industries can be dealt with adequately by a Minister of Mr Vaizey’s experience), it’s important to have a Minister in place who has the ability to understand the communications industry from a technical perspective – including its benefits, boundaries, limitations and how communications technologies can be applied singularly or in consort to give our United Kingdom the best opportunity to create a digital landscape and supporting economy of international renown.

To this end, we believe that Baroness Joanna Shields might be a wise choice to fill Mr Vaizey’s shoes. Her experience of technology – which includes everything from streaming video and audio, network storage, online marketing, social media and latterly championing the social responsibilities of the Internet as Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Internet Safety and Security – suggests to us that she has the abilities necessary to continue to pioneer digital technology within the United Kingdom.”

It’s unusual to see an ISP being so overtly political in this way and we have our doubts about whether a change of minister, at this stage, would really make much of a difference.

Similarly it could be argued that Ed Vaizey has been far more involved with the industry than prior individuals who have occupied a similar position, although admittedly broadband and Internet issues weren’t really on anybody’s political agenda until around 2007/8.

On top of that we must not forget that Ed Vaizey has helped to push through some changes that many consumers would consider to be positive, such as improvements to national broadband / mobile connectivity, optional parental controls (network-level filtering) and clearer pricing. Admittedly from the ISP’s perspective a number of those measures were identified as being flawed, but pro-consumer policy can be a vote winner.

Meanwhile Theresa May has signalled a desire to get more women into her cabinet and so there is still a possibility of a positive shake-up, but equally ISPs could also end up with somebody far worse. Finding the right balance is never easy, but we can’t disagree that ISPs do need to be consulted more about changes that affect the industry.

Leave a Comment
3 Responses
  1. Avatar TheManStan

    Asking for a Technocrat instead of a politician… but if they were that good in their field of expertise they wouldn’t be a politician…

    • Avatar Steve Jones

      Indeed. The last thing we want is a politician who thinks he/she is empowered to micro-manage the detail of the communications industry. I recall in horror the absolute mess that Tony Benn made with his interventionist policies in technology industries. There was the mess that was British Leyland, there was ICL and that commercial folly that was Concorde. What followed was a bunch of poorly lead companies beholden to political imperatives with unsupportable business models when exposed to competition. See what happened to the UK telecommunications equipment business (addicted to inflated prices paid by the Post Office/GPO and producing products unsellable in the rest of the world).

      No, politicians should set the high level objectives, and they should deal with the wider competitive and commercial issues, but the last thing we want is a technocrat dictating things.

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