Government considers future of national infrastructure strategy

DCMS launches consultation to help shape the UK’s digital connectivity strategy beyond 2020

The Department for Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) has called for input from industry, businesses and consumers to help it shape the future of connectivity in the UK into the mid-2020s and beyond.

Launching the consultation, minister for culture and digital industries Ed Vaizey and commercial secretary to the Treasury Lord Deighton said the advance of communications technology and its criticality to daily life showed no signs of slowing down.

The time was therefore right, they wrote in their introduction to DCMS’s consultation brief, to consider how best to follow on from the government’s superfast broadband strategy and address the convergence of broadcast and telecoms technology to ensure the UK remained a leading digital economy.

The consultation comes in the wake of the publication in July 2013 of DCMS’s Connectivity, Content and Consumers report, which set out the need to identify and implement a more long-term strategy around digital communications infrastructure.

The consultation, which will run until October, will seek further input on the following points:

  • How the UK can take advantage of growth potential in the communications sector, in areas such as innovation and creativity, maintenance of global competitiveness, and realising the full benefits of a world class infrastructure
  • Encouraging and aiding private sector investment in infrastructure
  • The regulatory framework that may need to be put in place to accomplish its goals
  • The role of government in policy, programme and investment coordination

From its discussions with stakeholders, DCMS has picked out a number of likely developments that future strategy makers will need to take into account as they shape the future of the UK’s digital economy. These include:

  • Demand for more bandwidth and symmetrical connections as data consumption rises, particularly with the advent of the internet of things
  • The expectation of being able to access services and applications via mobile devices will be the norm
  • Technology in areas such as 5G mobile networks and broadcasting will continue to advance very quickly
  • The market will look substantially different 10 years hence in terms of its main actors
  • Resilience and reliability of networks will be extremely important, alongside availability and speed

DCMS also highlighted the likelihood of switching off the copper network, revising the universal service obligation to include broadband, and the use of VoIP as a replacement for landline phones.

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