Tuesday, March 31, 2009

United Kingdom Broadband Green Light

In the United Kingdom the government agency that oversees the communications industry is the Office of Communications (Ofcom) . Ofcom is the equivalent of the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) in the United States and, like the FCC, has been struggling with the same television, radio and broadband issues.

There has been one particular ruling that Ofcom has been deliberating that involves the rollout of telcommunications provider British Telecom (BT) fiber networks. BT (telco) and Virgin Media (cable) are the two major broadband providers in the UK. BT in particular has been extremely anxious to upgrade its old copper based network with fiber but only if the company could get a fair return on their investment.

Well.... last week Ofcom made a decision to allow BT to set its own prices on how to sell access to its network to secure a fair return on their investment.

Here's an interesting BBC News quote from Ofcom chief executive Ed Richardson on the ruling:

Our message today is clear: there are no regulatory barriers in the way of investment in super-fast broadband. We want to promote investment to support the widespread adoption of superfast broadband but we want to balance that with the need for competition.

BBC News blogger Rory Cellan-Jones predicts by 2012, 40% of the UK will have BT's 40Mbps service, and 50% will have 50Mbps Virgin cable broadband - and although the two firms will overlap a lot, that means well over half of the UK should be in the fast lane.

Nice bandwidth! Two questions still remain though according to Cellan-Jones:

- How much will consumers pay?
- What will happen to the large numbers of people who still won't get access?

These questions sound very familiar.

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