Analysys Mason study to help public authorities prioritise next generation broadband
Date: Mon, 05/03/2010 - 14:35
Digital Britain Minister Stephen Timms announced that a new government body responsible for rolling out next-generation broadband across the UK is to start work. This announcement follows the publication of an Analysys Mason study forecasting the future reach of next-generation broadband access across the UK
The new body, Broadband Delivery UK (BDUK), will drive forward the Universal Service Commitment to deliver broadband access of at least 2Mbit/s to every household by 2012 and will oversee the investment of the GBP1 billion Next Generation Fund established to ensure high-speed broadband access for 90% of households by 2017.
The Analysys Mason study for the government (entitled “An assessment and practical guidance on next generation access (NGA) risk in the UK”) will help inform public authorities looking to invest in superfast broadband and will also be considered by BDUK in prioritising the communities seeking to benefit from the Next Generation Fund.
The study investigates the expected reach of next-generation access (NGA) across the UK up to 2017 based on three scenarios:
• a purely market-led approach
• a network subsidised by Digital Britain’s Next Generation Fund
• local interventions supplementing a subsidised network (such as the Yorkshire Forward Digital Region initiative in South Yorkshire).
The Analysys Mason study identifies the areas that are likely to be left behind in the initial waves of market-led NGA investments in the UK, with some 31% of areas remaining at risk as far into the future as 2017.
“The reality of a purely market-led roll-out of NGA is that a significant proportion of households and businesses will still be unable to access the Internet-based digital services that NGA makes possible. This is because the costs for telecoms providers of connecting premises in rural areas are higher due to the distances involved, which reduces return on investment compared to more densely populated urban areas. Deprived urban and rural areas are also less attractive to telecoms companies due to the lower potential revenue,” explains Ian Adkins, Manager at Analysys Mason and one of the authors of the study.
Key to the study (and what sets it apart from previous research into the impact of NGA) is the calculation of ‘risk results’ which are based on the likelihood of getting NGA and the impact of not having NGA. This means that for the first time the NGA risk results take into account the social risks relating to NGA roll-out as well as the cost of infrastructure roll-out.
“The study is not just about digital disadvantage; when digital disadvantage for individuals and communities is combined with other disadvantages (economic, educational or geographical) they can reinforce each other. The positive correlation between social and digital disadvantage certainly holds true for the current generation of broadband access, and there is a clear risk that this will be prolonged in relation to NGA,” adds Mary James, Lead Consultant at Analysys Mason and co-author of the study.