APPENDIX 3: CALL FOR EVIDENCE |
Will superfast broadband meet the needs of our "bandwidth
The House of Lords Select Committee on Communications,
chaired by Lord Inglewood, is announcing today an inquiry into
the Government's superfast broadband strategy. The Committee invites
interested organisations and individuals to submit written evidence
as part of the inquiry.
Written evidence is sought by Tuesday 13 March 2012.
Public hearings are expected to be held in March, April, May and
June. The Committee aims to report to the House, with recommendations,
before the summer recess. The report will receive a response from
the Government and may be debated in the House.
Consumer demand for bandwidth has increased significantly
in recent years and is certain to continue to rise with the increased
take-up of internet services and their ever increasing applicability.
Superfast broadband enables high-bandwidth content to be delivered
quickly across the network, enabling users to access a range of
services such as telemedicine, improved video conferencing and
the streaming of HD or 3D video content. In addition, the development
of the UK's broadband infrastructure will determine what opportunities
UK innovators and entrepreneurs have to develop a thriving ecology
for the creation and exploitation of new services. The depth of
penetration of superfast broadband infrastructure into communities
is therefore of strategic importance: it is a key factor in ensuring
no community is left behind, and that innovation and competition
are stimulated in the provision of local access and in the development
of new services.
In December 2010, the Department for Culture, Media
and Sport and the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills
published the Government's broadband strategy, Britain's Superfast
Broadband Future, which aims for Britain to have "the
best superfast broadband network in Europe by 2015". The
Government have committed £530 million to help stimulate
private investment in those locations where the commercial investment
case is weak; the Government's ambition is to provide superfast
broadband to at least 90% of premises in the UK by 2015 and to
provide universal access to standard broadband with a speed of
at least 2 Mb/s.
BT and Virgin Media have led the way with their investment
in superfast broadband networks. At the same time, a range of
other players, often with innovative business models, have been
developing their own networks. Some of these run on fixed-line
(primarily fibre optic) cable, others on mobile and satellite
platforms. The resulting infrastructure is as complex technologically
as it is economically and in terms of regulation. In addition,
despite the progress that has been made, given that consumer demand
for bandwidth is growing by around 60% a year and given the critical
importance of superfast broadband to innovators, entrepreneurs
and ultimately economic growth, speeds of 1Gb/s may be needed
by 2020 and current investment looks unlikely to be sufficient
to deliver this.
The Committee would welcome written submissions on
the Government's superfast broadband strategy and related issues.
Questions the Committee will consider include:
· What is being done to prevent a greater
digital divide occurring between people who can access superfast
broadband and people in areas where the roll-out of superfast
broadband may not be commercially attractive? How does the UK
communications market vary regionally and what is the best way
to connect the areas that the market alone cannot reach? Is a
universal service obligation necessary to avoid widening the digital
· The Government have committed £530
million to help stimulate private investmentis this enough
and is it being effectively applied to develop maximum social
and economic benefit?
· Will the Government's targets be met and
are they ambitious enough? What speed of broadband do we need
and what drives demand for superfast broadband?
· In fact, are there other targets the Government
should set; are there other indicators which should be used to
monitor the health of the digital economy? What communications
infrastructure does the UK ultimately need to remain competitive
and meet consumer demand over the next 20 years?
· How will individuals and companies use
cloud services for distributed storage and computation? What network
properties are required to enable efficient provision and use
of such services?
· To what extent will the advent of superfast
broadband affect the ways in which people view, listen to and
use media content? Will the broadband networks have the capacity
to meet demand for new media services such as interactive TV,
HD TV and 3D content? How will superfast broadband change e-commerce
and the provision of Government services?
· Will the UK's infrastructure provide effective,
affordable access to the 'internet of things', and what new opportunities
could this enable?
· How might superfast broadband change the
relationship between providers and consumers in other sectors
such as content? What aspects of this relationship are key to
enabling future innovations that will benefit society?
· What role could or should the different
methods of delivery play in ensuring the superfast broadband network
is fit for purpose and is as widely available as possible? How
does the expected demand for superfast broadband influence investment
to enhance the capacity of the broadband network?
· Does the UK, for example, have a properly
competitive market in wholesale fibre connectivity? What benefits
could such a market provide, and what actions could the Government
take to ensure such a market?
· What impact will enhanced broadband provision
have on the media and creative industries in the UK, not least
in light of the increased danger of online piracy? What is the
role of the Government in assuring internet security, and how
should intellectual property (IP) best be protected, taking into
account the benefits of openness and security?
You need not address all these questions. The Committee
would also welcome any other views of which stakeholders think
the Committee should be aware.
14 February 2012