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Full Digital Britain Report Published

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Full Digital Britain Report Published

Reading Lord Carter's 'Digital Britain' Interim Report was a painful enough process but it has nothing on the full, 245 page monstrosity. Frankly, I'm amazed I'm still alive having waded through it and I'm still not entirely sure exactly why because it's mostly a load of verbose, tedious waffle.

The running theme of getting the entirety of Britain connected by 2012 sounds fair enough. £200m of investment is intended to see every home in Britain on a 2Mbit minimum connection.

The government also plans a 50p levy on fixed line internet connections to facilitate the rollout of 'superfast' 'net connections to those in the 1/2 of the country expected not to have them by 2017. Sure, that's "only £6 a year" and maybe private industry can't cope with the cost of getting a broadband infrastructure to the entire country without external funding but it nonetheless rankles a little that I will be subsidising the rollout of 'superfast' broadband to those not in areas where it's available. Of course if I move into one of those areas in the meantime I'll likely change my opinion - and having a national fibre optic network would be pretty neat.

Still on the subject of the 'net are plans to create a more robust legal and regulatory framework around digital piracy. Ofcom is to oversee "a significant reduction in unlawful file sharing by imposing two specific obligations: notification of unlawful activity and, for repeat-infringers, a court-based process of identity release and civil action." In other words, Ofcom will be able to force ISPs to take action against users engaging in piracy in their networks be that by contacting and asking them to stop, imposing bandwidth restriction or by instigating legal action should such measures prove ineffective.

Further, the Government is to "make some changes to the legislative framework around copyright licensing" in order to encourage cheap digital distribution of content. There's no word on how that will be done, but it's said that some of this legislation will come from the EU.

Their report also proposes that a slice of the BBC's License Fee could be shared with other, commercial, broadcasters with a public service remit. Specifically, the £130m annual allowance in the License Fee for Digital Switchover could be reallocated once that process is completed to be shared with ITV, Channel 5 and Five. Further to that, Channel 4's role is to be changed, although there's no explanation as to what the result of that will be.

By 2015 all national radio stations are do be broadcast digitally and that a complete switchover to digital radio will be implemented once digital stations comprise 50 per cent of all radio listening and announced two years before the switch actually happens. Coverage of digital radio is to be boosted to reach 90 per cent of the population.

In the mobile arena, the 800MHz wireless spectrum made available by TV's Digital Switchover is to see a "timely clearance" before being combined with the "so-called 3G expansion band in a single auction of 10MHz-width blocks of spectrum." Limits will be imposed on the amount of spectrum existing mobile operators can buy, ensuring that both the current five (Vodafone, Orange, 3, O2 and T-Mobile) and potential new entrants can all get a fair share. Current 3G licences are to be made permanent which will, supposedly, make investment more likely as a result of the certainty provided.

So there you have it, 245 pages and the report hasn't said anything all that profound and none of the proposals set out seem exactly revelatory. I'm underwhelmed to say the least, but what do you guys think?

Link:

Digital Britain Full Report (245 page, 3MB PDF).

prag fest

June 17, 2009, 5:34 pm

Look at the way they made the logo look like a USB key, that's so awesome.

rav

June 17, 2009, 5:39 pm

I don't agree with the universal service obligation. If you choose to live in the middle of nowhere to improve your quality of life and get away from urban life then that's your decision. There's a disproportionate cost of supplying broadband to remote areas and I don't see why this should be subsidised by others. They're having their cake and eating it. Surely 3G or Wimax makes the most sense for providing coverage in these areas.





And before anyone mentions it I know that not all people who don't receive broadband live out in the sticks! My rant doesn't particularly apply to them.

Hallainzil

June 17, 2009, 6:22 pm

The whole point of the universal service obligation is that a lack of broadband internet access is becoming more and more of a social disadvantage, and minimising that sort of thing is pretty much one of a government's key objectives.





Not everyone can live in a city, and that sort of argument is pretty silly. Plus, they pay the same as you for the same package, despite receiving a fraction of the service, so in many ways, they've already been subsidising you.





It works both ways, and government fighting for decent net access for everyone is laudable.

Simon

June 17, 2009, 7:09 pm

Any mention in there of if/when they will be upgrading DAB to DAB+?

Peter

June 17, 2009, 7:35 pm

@Simon


http://www.getdigitalradio.com...





We should really be getting on the DAB+ bandwagon ASAP. To me FM still sounds nicer than DAB.

Chocoa

June 17, 2009, 8:20 pm

Hugo glad your still alive after the read. - Such noble, selfless duty is an inspiration to us all ;)





here's what I "thing" ;)





- No mention ( in the report?) of industry contributing to the backbone? Given ISP's "encourage" cosumers NOT to use peak times for downloads, it kinda suggests who should bear the major burden here.


- I have no issue with the £6 IF it actually goes to the infrastructure and not to a different use - as seems the TV license fee is heading now.


- How does OFCOM - an independent body I thought, take charge of a legal duty on piracy, Seems a gross conflict of interest to my mind! And how they propose to deal with VPN and SSL is another issue - without intrusive behaviour!





Oh and by the way ravmania, "...If you choose to live in the middle of nowhere to improve your quality of life... " Some of us have always lived in the country!!! -WE produce the food YOU townies eat! Sheesh.

hankb6d

June 18, 2009, 12:04 am

Another tax, and more police resources wasted chasing file pirates (EG. it took 40 officers to arrest a suspected woman peedo last week)instead of visibility patrols on the streets. Welcome to the stupidity that is britain today. And still the dumb British public vote for these crooks, and the police are 20% made up of crooks go figure?

GoldenGuy

June 18, 2009, 10:18 am

"WE produce the food YOU townies eat!"





If we didn't, you'd chase that around with dogs and muskets too.





Look, the report isn't THAT bad and sadly, I imagine it had to be designed to be read by many people who aren't that technologically savvy, even in the highest paid jobs. I mean don't people like Boris Johnson have to understand this stuff as well? Leaving style aside for a second, some of the actual content is disheartening if not unexpected. I thought when it came to file sharing we'd win the revolution but if every government is going to insist on bending over for the industry, then we really are screwed. I guess the recent decision in France is a nice little glimmer of hope.

Chocoa

June 18, 2009, 3:07 pm

@ GoldenGuy


"If we didn't, you'd chase that around with dogs and muskets too." LOL yea!!





....Gerroff my laaaand! ( And yes, I admit it, I DID say that once to someone who let their dogs chase my livestock!)





?Muskets ;)





Seriously, tho' we need a common infrastructure to support out-workers and 'inner' city. If we are to compete in a global manufacturing society and a technological one too. Not just to allow Mr & Mrs Average watch BBC iPlayer stutter free.

GoldenGuy

June 19, 2009, 8:40 pm

"Seriously, tho' we need a common infrastructure to support out-workers and 'inner' city. If we are to compete in a global manufacturing society and a technological one too. Not just to allow Mr & Mrs Average watch BBC iPlayer stutter free."





Agreed. I was salivating at the mouth when there wereeven the slightest rumours of that project to take the internet down to the Tube. Everyone snorts with derision when they think of people trying to surf on a 15" laptop during bustling, sweaty rush hour, but the truth is that iPhone would become much more than just a toy to whip out at McDonald's. The netbook market would become extremely significant at that point.

thewelshbrummie

June 23, 2009, 12:28 am

@Simon & @Peter: Regardless of whether/when/if DAB+ launches, DAB will stay "for the foreseeable future"





Hugo, some slightly confused points you've raised on radio:





"a complete switchover to digital radio will be implemented once digital stations comprise 50 per cent of all radio listening "





That's not how I read it. The "Digital Upgrade" mentioned in the report will occur when 50% listening occurs on digital platforms, not a complete switchover to Digital Radio. FM will stay for community (volunteer based) and "ultra-local" commercial radio beyond 2015.

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