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By: MarkJ - 16 August, 2010 (6:07 AM)
scotland regions broadband uk mapA new study from Reform Scotland, an independent, non-party think tank with its funding coming from individuals, charitable trusts or companies which share its aims, has warned that the UK and Scotland could fall even further behind other countries if a more ambitious plan and investment isn't put into our national broadband ISP infrastructure.

The report warned that approximately one fifth of Scotland's homes and businesses reside too far from their local telephone exchange to reach the government's broadband download speed target of 2Mbps by 2012 (old target) 2015. It suggests that an investment of £200m in Scotland's broadband network and the appointment of a Scottish government minister whom could focus on the problem would be a good start, along with subsidies for the most remote locations.

The study said ( BBC ):

"There is no co-ordinated digital strategy or plan to ensure that large parts of Scotland do not suffer from no or very limited access to the next generation of high-speed broadband.

If Scotland is to compete with other countries and with other regions of the UK, then in an increasingly digital world, we must move quickly to develop a plan to build a fibre network across large areas of Scotland with enhanced copper, wireless and, exceptionally, satellite at the edges of the networks.

This will necessitate some public subsidy and choices to be made over how our public and private capital is deployed."

Sadly the report itself is perhaps a little bit out-of-date because it remarks upon the 2Mbps Universal Service Commitment (USC) target as being 2012, which was the original goal prior to July's announcement of a delay until 2015.

Similarly it talks about the next target after the USC as being to deliver broadband speeds of 50Mbps to 90% of people by 2017; it also notes that much of the excluded 10% would be in Scotland. This is, once again, very similar to the previous Labour governments Digital Britain report based policies.

Regular readers will of course remember that 50Mbps was always more of an assumed figure because the politicians of that time, and indeed this new government too, never liked to talk about broadband download speeds as a specific number. Instead the ambiguity and confusion that "super-fast" brings is the best we can get today (512Kbps used to be called "super-fast" by some ISPs, way back in 2001).

Unfortunately it's a little late to be proposing yet more "new" approach ideas, we're now way past that stage and the onus is squarely on the current government to get building, or at least to encourage others to do that. C- for effort (ISPA UK Regrets Governments Failure to Solve the Fibre Optic Broadband Tax).

UPDATE 18th August 2010

Here's the full report (PDF):
http://www.reformscotland.com/include/publications/Digital_Power.pdf
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