Broadband at the Party Conferences: let the 2015 election campaign commence

For all the current interest in Broadband, it does not appear to have featured at the LibDem and Labour party conferences and there appears to be only one directly relevent meeting at the Conservative party conference: the Conservative  Technology Forum meeting on Sunday October 3rd, 5.00 for 5.30, ending by 7.00. That meeting is outside the security zone at the Institute for Engineering and Technology, Austin Court (between the ICC and the National Indoor Arena) so there is no need to have a security pass in order to attend.

The meeting is due to be chaired by Adam Afriyie MP  (President of the Forum). The speakers are  Gabrielle Gauthey, Executive vice-president Global government and public affairs, Alcatel Lucent, Mark Melluish, CEO Rutland Telecom and Therese Coffey MP, Suffolk Coastal.

See the CTF website for more details

Alcatel-Lucent supplies the technologies used in a wide variety of fixed and mobile communications around the world, including the US Next Generation networks that will carry highly secure defence traffic alongside rural broadband and the Chattanooga solution which also carries smart grid and metering. 

Rutland Telecom is claimed to be a model for mixing the best that BT can provide with low cost rural distribution technologies, in what could be a most cost-effective win-win solution for all – including BT shareholders, taxpayers, local business and consumers and their children.     

Therese Coffey is one of those business-experienced new MPs who can take apart a business case rather better than most lobbyists can disguise special pleading. She is also, like many broadband enthusiasts and telecoms engineers, a member of CAMRA.

The CTF meeting at the last party conference was packed, not just standing room only but no room at all by the time the meeting was due to start. Most of the audience, apart from the industry lobbyists, were Councillors and party activists wanting “real” broadband for their communities. They did not wish to just talk about the issues but to know why they could not currently get a service and when they would.

A year later and their patience is running thin. 

Some of the audience may already know why Britain’s largest container port, Felixstowe (in Therese Coffey’s constituency), does not have a broadband service to match that of Amsterdam, Bruges or Copenhagen, let alone Azerbaijan, Bucharest or Chattanooga.

What they will soon want to know is what the Coalition government is going to announce alongside the spending review to help remove the obstacles that prevent market forces from making up for regulatory failure. 

I look forward to a fun meeting.

The clash with Rory Stewart’s meeting on the Big Society and Cumbria (Respublica Marquee 5, within the security zones) is unfortunate – but competition means choice – and the reivers should not really be allowed to steal the lead south of Camelot.

(Arthur’s round table is now said to have been the former Colliseum at Chester – which could seat nearly a thousand in the front row and was supposedly, recent archeological evidence, turned into a circular fortress after the Romans left).

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