Brown, Cameron and Clegg agree on importance of broadband but blogocracy disagrees

Last week leading politicians were competing to agree on the crucial importance of broadband. Meanwhile Guido Fawkes was telling the cream of the blogocracy, at a meeting hosted by the BCS, that his granny would never use broadband and it was more important to use the money available to teach the socially excluded how to read.

Meanwhile the organiser of the E-Business Regulatory Alliance said on Linked In that he could not understand why we needed 100 mbps pipes. It was as if his counterpart at the Steam Business Regulatory Alliance had said in 1830 that he could not see why anyone would need trains that could travel at more than ten miles an hour.


The comments of the Prime Minister opening the Digital Inclusion conference and the Conservative response in their Technology Manifesto highlight the growing political importance of Broadband. The social inclusion agendas of the rest of the world, from Africa, through Brazil to China are already being delivered by low cost, language independent, on-line access for the illiterate – usually over mobile technologies. The LibDem and Conservative agendas for opening up government files to on-line scrutiny, by those who can read and write, require access that is being delivered by the roll-out of fibre to the home in most of our overseas competitors. Their plans to improve performance monitoring and to strip out cost by devolving responsibility and authority to those at the front line of public service delivery similarly require a massive investment in our communicaitons infrastructure.


And the medical care and monitoring devices that will enable Guido Fawkes granny to bring the world to her home (under her control), watching, for example, her grandchildren playing at Guido’s home while chatting to Mrs Fawkes, will require pipes as fat as those which already enable th matriarchs of Japanese and Korean extended families to do just that.


On Monday the Information Society Alliance – EURIM will release a succinct briefing for candidates covering:


  • Why does access to world class broadband matter?

– including jobs, education, social inclusion, access to public service and cost savings   

  • Access to Broadband in Britain Today

– including currently available speeds and levels of service and announced plans and policies

  • What can YOU do?

– including to check current local reality and plans and to compare lobbying and policy positions


The briefing was “interesting” to draft because of the way that conflicts over definitions  mask differences between interest groups over priorities and funding models.


The on-line text contains hot-links to the main sources used, the relevant party policy statements and a resource page intended to carry links to information on the applications and benefits of broadband, case studies, relevant initiatives, background on the technologies, social inclusion aspects and the impact on communities.


As yet the resource page has limited content and those wishing to post links to material they believe should be added are being asked to send these to [email protected] for moderation.


The alliance plans to build on the summary and website as the basis for more substantive briefing exercises for the successful candidates to enable them to better scrutinise delivery plans and monitor implementation via the relevant select committees – not just BIS and DCMS, but all those whose policy delivery plans will depend on the UK having a communications infrastructure that is fit for an evolving purpose.


In the mean time we can expect the current generation of text bloggers to fight their own rearguard action lest they loss status to a new a generation of video bloggers. My very first published article (“Video in the year 2000” published in “Video World” in the late 1970s) described the technologies they will use, albeit I out was out by over a decade.


They included in-line editing facilities to transform the blogger and their surroundings into the avatar and location of their choice – thus a lean and saturnine Guido will communicate from the cellars of parliament – and I will have lost 50 lbs and will blog from my favourite not-spot (shown on current marketing sites as having up to 20 mbps and full mobile broadband – although it has no electricity and I have to got out on the headland to get a mobile signal).