Tuesday, March 03, 2009

Is broadband a utility?

The news today at OFCOM has given a green light to so-called "ultra high speed" and "super fast" broadband in the UK is long overdue. Not only has apparently been the norm for a long time in places as far flung as Corsica, but the fact is that even "average" or "walk paced" broadband would be a start for many in this country.

In fact, last time I did a broadband speed check at home, I registered the almighty speed of 90kbs. Oh yes. Dial-up speeds. And that's when I can even get my beloved Tiscali DSL connection to work.

However, while OFCOM CEO Ed Richards goes on the record as saying there are now "no regulatory in the way of investment in super-fast broadband", it's not really that easy, is it. For while the regulator may be waving the green light, or whatever the correct analogy is, the market needs to bite the bullet and make that investment.

BT's 21CN is of course, the first play to this end. And the growth of a wholesale market off the back of it will open up the market, are we seriously going to see the return of companies raising millions in capital to only then bury it under the street and hope that demand will be arrive before their money runs out.

At the end of the day, broadband access really is becoming a core utility. It's like your gas or electric ... a modern home can't operate 'off grid'. So while the government is busy pumping billions into saving the banks, maybe it's time they looked somewhere else to find the investment that will help pull the country out of recession and provide a launch pad for recovery.

Government investment in the Internet infrastructure of the country anyone?

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