DCMS "announces" policy U-turn. BDUK to deliver "Superfast Broadband"

The advertisment for a Chief Executive of BDUK appears to be evidence that DMCS intends to relaunch BDUK as the planning and procurement agency for a portolio of centrally controlled “capital programmes” to create “Superfast Britain” – instead of winding it up as a failed attempt to tell Local Authorities how to administer subsidies to help them meet their economic regeneration, social inclusion and “Digital by Default” objectives.

I hope that I am wrong and that the recruitment agency has misinterpreted their brief. But the implication is that officials have already decided that the way forward is to put the thirty year-old telecommunications UK liberalisation programme into reverse. This is at a time when the UK is on the verge of achieving a genuinely competitive broadband market – not just the local loop unbundling (alias the reselling of a monopoly service) which Ed Richards regards as one of Ofcom’s great acheivements.

I suggest you read the advert and ponder the role of this exercise in self-perpetuation.

P.S. I spoke too soon about the DCMS vision of the future. I need to make time to blog on what I heard at an excellent Westminster Media Forum event earlier this week. The BBC, BT, ITV, Sky, O2 and Google and have visions of the future. Ofcom believes it should – and is planning how to regulate developments before players have decided whether they are worth pursuing, even before the impact of regulation. DCMS is still trying to work out how to plan and legislate for a past that is changing at an accelerating pace – although the very shape of the industries it covers (e.g. vertical or horizontal integration, internationalisation or localisation, competition or monopoly) is unclear. Back in 1978 -9 we had visions of the future: mine was the basis of the discussion paper: “Cashing in on the Chips“. The vision of Adrian Normans, who produced the first policy draft in parellel, had been published long when he was co-author with his then IBM colleague, James Martin, of the “The Wired Society”. However, we were reporting, via (Sir) Ian Lloyd to (Lord) Keith Joseph who was were quite clear that planning and regulating in advance was the wrong answer. He was indeed right – and we both knew he was. We had to liberalise the market in order allow the future to evolve.    

I need to blog on this topic at leisure. Instead off to Parliament and the Internet conference,