Investment welcomed but the channel is skeptical
The government has revealed the amount of investment in increasing broadband speeds and has already received criticism, especially as a promised national rollout by 2015 is unlikely.
Following recent promises to cut red tape to allow internet service providers to install broadband without council approval , culture secretary Maria Miller has announced an extra £14 million will be added to the original £100 million pot for ten cities around the country.
London is being given £25 million to help businesses reach broadband speeds of 80-100 Mbps, along with high speed wireless access.
“Fast broadband is essential for growth, and is key to the country’s economic future,” Miller said. “These ten cities have produced ambitious and comprehensive plans, which will turn them into digital leaders, and give their local economies a real boost. The new investment will help put these cities at the centre of the digital stage, competing for jobs and investment with the best in the world.”
The government is attempting to catch up with other European cities, with the goal of having the fastest broadband network in the region by 2015.
Despite possible benefits to the channel – for example, in offering cloud services to business customers targeted in the broadband rollout – the piecemeal approach to funding separate cities will fall short of expectations.
Ian Kilpatrick at VAD Wick Hill says that while faster speeds will aid the channel, the government has failed to live up to its commitments to provide broadband to the whole country despite previous targets.
“From a channel perspective any investment is good news,” he told ChannelBiz UK. “Certainly there are clearly moves in there that are provide good broadband and also the next coming development which is high density wireless.
“But at the same time,” Kilpatrick said, “the bad news is that they are behind in some of the other targets for deployment, and it is going to create some kind of postcode access lottery”.
He added that the government is now unlikely to reach its goal of nationwide high speed broadband, and says the amount of investment should be higher: “Overall it could be a lot more. It should be a lot more we need the faster access as a nation, and from a channel point of view”.
“At a broader level I would personally like to see a wider commitment to delivering the access that they have being talking about that we are certainly not going to see by 2015,” he said.
According to Andrew Ferguson at Thinkbroadband, the extra £14 million pledged to the ten cities has come from the overall £830 million investment budget up until 2015, which means that there will be less money to be spent in other areas.
“While investment in broadband has been shown to improve the economy meaning that public spending can be seen to boost the economy, it appears the boost in funding for the 10 largest cities will be at the expense of the other projects,” Ferguson said in a statement. “The press release from DCMS indicates that the total investment up until 2015 of £830m has not changed. So the question is which of the three other projects will end up being short by £14m”.
The BDUK projects when they apportioned their original funding in August 2011, had some £100m remaining as contingency fund, and extra funding as councils double check the BDUK figures for households has reduced this already, Thinkbroadband pointed out. “The £50m for the ten smaller cities will see the increase in funding for the largest cities and increase pressure for that fund to probably increase.”
According to Neil Gardner, ALVEA Services proposition manager, the rollout of high speed broadband will have some positive effect on boosting cloud services throughout the UK:
“With predictions for the value of the public cloud market more than doubling over the next four years, any initiatives that are going to help partners capitalise on cloud are going to be welcomed by the channel,” he said, speaking with ChannelBiz UK.
However, broadband is not the only concern for cloud uptake. “In our experience, slow take-up of cloud has been more about security and data sovereignty than broadband speeds per se,” Gardner said.
“With fears over security and resilience when using the cloud for mission-critical applications diminishing as enterprises are beginning to trust their service providers, the key issue is more likely to be around fail-safe connectivity to the internet,” Gardner said.