CXO

Peter Cochrane's Blog: Digital Britain? Not quite

Carter report falls short in so many ways

Compiled in a San Diego coffee shop where bandwidth seems plentiful and the connectivity is free. Dispatched the next day via a free wireless LAN at my hotel.

On 11 February the UK government publicly committed to broadband for every home by 2012. Hurrah! But the bad news is they see 2Mbps as broadband.

By contrast, a day later the South Korean government made a similar pledge for a 1000Mbps net connection to every home and office by 2013. That's 500 times faster than the UK - whoops!

On reading Lord Carter's report is seems to be ideal for MPs and people who were clueless about the digital economy some 10 or 15 years ago. It is so wide of the mark for today as to be useless, and certainly does not address what any nation needs.

It tells us nothing we haven't understood for a very long time, and it doesn't offer a grain of hope for the future. For example there is no comprehension or consideration of the following impending issues:

  • Migration from web 1.0 to web 2.0, 3.0, 4.0 etc
  • Crippling limitations of asymmetry and contention
  • Real needs of business, home and mobile workers
  • Changes in broadcasting and entertainment
  • How content generation and distribution are migrating
  • Interplay of high-speed fixed and mobile networks
  • Demise of DRM and all attempts to control content
  • Creation of new business models and services

I could go on - the list of omissions is endless.

And where oh where is the aspiration to join the world broadband leaders like China, Japan, Korea and Scandinavia?

Some of these countries already have a 100Mbps basic service for home and office that, by law, has to be uncontended. Yes, you actually get the full speed in both directions, up and down - meaning no sharing or unexpected slowdowns.

And no marketing hype, or small print about speeds 'up to 8Mbps' and so on.

A connection that fast means videoconferencing, IPTV and the downloading and uploading of modern-sized content really work.

Why would any government want to trumpet an ambition that will place their country at the back of the pack? In effect where Korea and Japan were some 10 to 15 years ago is where the UK will be in 2012.

I can only surmise that they don't get out much, and they certainly don't use the technology or understand it. But then again, it seems they never drive on the M25 either. So the impact of congestion and a general lack of transport capacity also escapes them.

All over the UK I see businesses unable to develop and expand because they cannot move atoms or bits fast enough. The general lack of transport capacity is now probably the number one stifler of progress. Unfortunately, it seems government just doesn't get IT!

About Peter Cochrane

Peter Cochrane is an engineer, scientist, entrepreneur, futurist and consultant. He is the former CTO and head of research at BT, with a career in telecoms and IT spanning more than 40 years.

Editor's Picks

Free Newsletters, In your Inbox