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Nicky Morgan MP Replaces Jeremy Wright as UK Culture Secretary

Thursday, July 25th, 2019 (8:23 am) - Score 1,679
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The appointment of Boris Johnson to become the new UK Prime Minister has resulted in yet another round of musical chairs at the top, which means that Jeremy Wright has now been replaced at the helm of the Department for Digital, Culture, Media & Sport (DCMS) by Nicky Morgan (MP for Loughborough).

Culture Secretary’s rarely seem to last very long and indeed Jeremy Wright only took on the position one year ago. Similarly Nicky may herself not last very long in the role if Boris’s plan for Brexit – assuming a viable one exists – results in yet more uncertainty and a continued inability to reach agreement across parliament.

Meanwhile Nicky herself will have the perhaps unenviable task of trying to figure out how achieve Boris’s pledge to have “fantastic full fibre broadband sprouting in every household” by 2025. Admittedly he hasn’t actually repeated the seemingly unachievable 2025 date again since formally taking office and this is one broadband strategy where the devil really will be in the detail.

At this point we’d usually look back on Jeremy Wright’s broadband and mobile centric achievements but the groundwork for most of what he oversaw was largely laid by his predecessors (i.e. Matt Hancock, Karen Bradley and Ed Vaizey). Jeremy did at least put a lot of effort into bringing mobile operators together for a potential network agreement in rural areas (still pending approval by Ofcom / Gov) and he launched the £200m Rural Gigabit Connectivity (RGC) programme to boost broadband (here).

As for Nicky, she studied law at Oxford University and then worked as a solicitor specialising in Corporate Law advising a range of private and public companies from 1994 till her election in 2010. Nicky has previously held government positions in education, equalities and the treasury. She also voted Remain in the 2016 EU referendum and has supported a campaign for better broadband in Loughborough (here).

Tim Breitmeyer, President of the (CLA) – Rural Landowners, said:

“We welcome Mrs Morgan to her new role as Secretary of State for DDCMS. We look forward to working together to improve rural connectivity and bridge the rural/urban divide.

We also believe that Mrs Morgan has the most tremendous opportunity to deliver on Boris Johnson’s promise of rural broadband for all which can unleash the currently untapped economic potential of the countryside, creating thousands of jobs in the process. But this is easier said than done, and we stand ready to help make this a reality.

At the top of her inbox will be a proposal from mobile operators on delivering a single rural network to increase 4G coverage in the countryside. We made a consistent case to her predecessor that any proposals need to be legally binding, should be robustly monitored and require operators to publish roll-out plans. The focus should be on improving coverage as soon as possible.”

At the time of writing we do not know who will replace Margot James MP in the key broadband and mobile centric role of Minister for Digital and Creative Industries.

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Mark Jackson
By Mark Jackson
Mark is a professional technology writer, IT consultant and computer engineer from Dorset (England), he also founded ISPreview in 1999 and enjoys analysing the latest telecoms and broadband developments. Find me on Twitter, , Facebook and Linkedin.
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22 Responses
  1. Avatar NGA for all

    Nicky Morgan could use this NI procurement https://www.economy-ni.gov.uk/news/department-economy-invites-industry-bids-ps165million-broadband-improvement-project to claim a province wide ‘fully’ fibred story well in advance of 2025.

    If monies within the BDUK process were applied to completing say 5 more regional in-fill rural FTTP projects, they would make a substantive contribution to bringing forward 2033, or at least removing the excuses. The B-USO would need to be kicked down the road a bit to accommodate the completion of the 2012 programme.

    • Avatar New_Londoner

      @Mike
      You know that the gainshare monies are payable to individual local authorities because this has been explained to you many times.

      Given the above, what makes you think that local authorities would all be happy to pool this money to spend on regional schemes that may have, in some cases, limited impact in their own areas? And what makes you think that they would prioritise further investment in broadband over, for example, adult social care, roads or libraries?

      As for bringing forward the 2033 completion date, a key limiting factor is manpower, with construction and civil engineering projects struggling to find sufficient people. This is being exacerbated by government immigration policy. Tapping into gainshare money does nothing to address this.

    • Avatar NGA for all

      Well half the gainshare is BDUK’s so that can be pooled and re-used, which is the origin of the NI proposal if you follow the questions at the 2017 EFRA select committee and an earlier effort. If gainshare is tied down, the monies in lue of can be used until BT pays treasury back.
      The capacity to order a fibre service has more meaning that accommodating the turn off of copper. The former can be brought forward if all the monies owed are applied.

    • Avatar TheFacts

      @NGA – See below, please explain ‘capacity to order’.

  2. Avatar Andrew Ferguson

    On no she cannot since ‘seeks to improve connectivity for those unable to access broadband services of at least 30 Mbps’ so what what about the others who can already get 30 Mbps?

    £165 million project for around 100,000 premises and that excludes any match funding.

    Yes it fills a bit of the puzzle if the project delivers FTTP but 100,000 is just a part of the 28 million needed

    • Avatar NGA for all

      Does she need to worry about 28m or just the capacity of 28m to order a ‘fibre’ service when they need it? The latter could be done if rural delivery was built back up to £150m a year for the next 5 years using monies already in the system.

      Of course the resource is not there to transition to full fibre by 2025, but the ability to order a ‘fibre’ service everywhere should be possible. This is a pretty easy re-statement for politicians.

      The more completed in rural, and there are 400k premises under contract yet to be delivered and enough money to do another 600k FTTP on top if these can be contracted, locally, regionally, then each gain in rural has a multiplying impact on the reducing the excuses for not completing urban upgrades.

      The significance of the NI funding is that BT could ready whole rural exchange areas for full fibre. This could have been planed from day 1 given the budgets made available in places like Cumbria. The fact it has not occurred means the monies will still be there for works to be completed.

      It cannot all be done, but there is at least another £1bn of effort possible that could be brought forward before 2025. That would make the BDUK project extremely successful while assisting in the 2033 date.

    • Avatar TheFacts

      @NGA – what would have to be in place for anyone to be able to order a service? The various providers would have to have conectivity in place to connect any property within x days at £yyy?

    • Avatar Andrew Ferguson

      If the politicians push a capacity in place ready to order that does not fit the standard definition of premises passed then I will make it clear what I think of this is.

    • Avatar NGA for all

      Sure, but even a properly defined ‘reasonable request’ for a fibre based service including a full fibre service would be a big step forward. Currently BT has no obligation to supply full fibre to business parks, even if there are bundles of spare subsidised fibre at the entrance to the park.

      In terms of wayleaves, establishing the status of fibre as a direct replacement or upgrade to copper would also stop that being gamed.

      Much more can be done, not that 2025 can be met.

    • Avatar Andrew Ferguson

      And a properly defined request for fttp would make the UK a laughing stock in international circles if it was used to say UK had 100% FTTP coverage – end of.

      Well aware you are somehow welded to the idea of a fibre on demand scheme and have been for years, but it does not solve the problem apart from the highly engaged

    • Avatar Fastman

      NGA

      Sure, but even a properly defined ‘reasonable request’ for a fibre based service including a full fibre service would be a big step forward. Currently BT has no obligation to supply full fibre to business parks, even if there are bundles of spare subsidised fibre at the entrance to the park.

      does that mean if I live next to a housing estate the developer should sell me a subsidsed house then

    • Avatar NGA for all

      Fastman, no but in the context of defining a ‘reasonable request’ the existence of the subsidised assets would be included reducing BT Group discretion in either refusing service or inflating the estimated incremental costs.

    • Avatar NGA for all

      Andrew, a defined ‘reasonable request’ is just one of the many jig saw pieces. It should be of more concern that this discretion exists after Ofcom reported in 2017 that full fibre was subject to a ‘reasonable request’ in the 2017 WLA documentation. Subsequently they admitted the full definition remains outstanding.

    • Avatar Andrew Ferguson

      Lets be honest here, you are the only one really bothering to keep plugging away at Fibre on Demand….

      If the ambition was to build 15 million by 2025 then doing FoD bit by bit was NEVER EVER EVER going to scale, unless 1 FoD order was a trigger to roll it out natively to a whole exchange, at which point it becomes just a who can get an order in fastest to get their exchange onto the list first game.

      Economies of scale are key to doing anything in the 15 million to 30 million region, and time that people were told this bluntly as I am doing to you now.

    • Avatar TheFacts

      @NGA – please give us your definition of a ‘reasonable request’

  3. Avatar James W

    I think if she can get the red tape cut. Stopping Property owners and Property directors being able to refuse access for FTTP providers. Then there will be a faster roll out.

    Being on the end of a Property Director stuck in the stone age. If it was set they are not allowed to refuse access. I would already be benefitting 1gb connection.

    • Avatar Rahul

      Exactly my point!

      I would’ve been far more excited if there was a solution for the red tape and wayleave issues that halt progress of the FTTP rollout than making bold promises of achieving full fibre in the next 5-6 years.

      I don’t take 2025 seriously without those wayleave issues being addressed. If I can’t convince my building management last 4 years to sign wayleave with Hyperoptic for example, how am I supposed to be convinced that the whole country will be covered with full fibre?!

      None of this has been mentioned by the PM yet and the new Culture Secretary doesn’t have much experience either. They have brand new posts with little experience in Fibre roll-outs.

      Until there isn’t a law to forcefully install Fibre into buildings without having to wait for permissions from building managements even 2033 won’t happen. This is the reason why in Eastern European countries there’s more success, red tapes and restrictions are minimum.

  4. Avatar Tempest3K

    Boris Johnson just restated his 2025 commitment in Parliament, should be an interesting one to watch.

    • Did he say 2025 though? I heard another vague mention of full fibre but not the date.

    • Avatar New_Londoner

      @Mark
      He did give a timeframe, said something to the effect of “within five years”.

    • Avatar Kyle

      Yes, I heard that in his acceptance speech. I half-expected a news article.

    • Avatar John

      This is the man who, in his own words, sometimes “sandpapers the truth”. Don’t expect this, or many of his other wild claims, to be met. Just saying it doesn’t mean it will happen or is, indeed, possible…

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