In the latest in a series of guest blogs on Network Noise, Andy Lockwood, transformation director at b2b comms provider Opal, responds to the government's broadband strategy announced this month.
I am pleased to see the Government committing £830M to support the private sector in giving "every community" access to super-fast broadband speeds by 2015 - my pleasure being only slightly tarnished by the revision of the commitment date from 2012, writes Andy.
Britain's network is also said to be languishing at 13th place in comparison to the rest of Europe, raising the stakes for us as an economy. The big question for us and our partners is how this news will impact businesses, particularly SMEs given the crucial role that they will play in leading Britain out of the recession.
However, our customers tell us that the most important factor for them (after getting connected) is the reliability of the connection.
Today businesses rely on their broadband connections to deliver "mission critical" systems such as POS/chip-and-pin authorisations, stock management and online trading.
We are committed to developing a true business grade broadband proposition that will enable enterprises across the UK to benefit from a NGN that will match their needs and future-proof their business.
The options that can really make a difference to businesses include: assured rates - a guaranteed upstream and downstream bandwidth of 512Kbps which ensures mission-critical applications are available all the time, an Annex M option for both SMPF and MPF that can double upstream bandwidth and support services such as high quality broadband to VoIP solutions to help partners meet increased demand for VoIP technology. Support services that minimise downtime where on-net faults are guaranteed to be fixed within four hours and line faults within six hours, for example, are crucial to maintaining high service availability and Opal backs up this promise with service credits if these targets aren't met.
These elements are all critical to ensuring that businesses get the broadband connectivity they need and in turn helping to ensure the UK remains a competitive technology-enabled economy.
With over 2,000 exchanges already unbundled and expansion forecast to 700 more, we want to increase coverage into smaller communities across the UK and offering higher speeds, more choice and better prices - hitting all of the Government's criteria for "the best network".
The Government quite rightly understands that the increasing broadband penetration is about jobs - it's about helping businesses do better business in a 21st century connected world.
Ultimately, defining what business grade broadband is and how it works will be fundamental to the success of the Government's latest announced investment.