Today’s Digital Britain report recommends that the government helps bear the financial burden of improving the nation’s broadband infrastructure, but such advances are far more likely to be achieved through market forces, according to price comparison website Top 10 Broadband ( www.top10-broadband.co.uk )
Announcing the proposals in the House of Commons, Culture Secretary Ben Bradshaw claimed that unless the government intervenes, super-fast broadband “will only reach two thirds of homes and businesses in the next decade”.
Whilst increased investment into infrastructure is to be welcomed, Tom Leathes, director of Top 10 Broadband, said: “Take up of broadband has always been driven by the market, not through government hand-outs.”
Top 10 Broadband expects demand for super-fast broadband to be driven by entertainment services, such as the BBC’s iPlayer and movie download services like iTunes, which require faster and more robust connections. As this nascent but growing market expands, so investment in a next-generation network will become a more viable proposition for providers.
Leathes continued “currently super-fast broadband is a less competitive sector than mobile or ADSL broadband – it’s just too expensive for the vast majority. However, as public demand grows, we anticipate the cost of super-fast broadband packages to tumble, and private investment into infrastructure to explode – just as they have done for 3G mobile broadband products.”
In just two years, the average price of a mobile broadband product has fallen from approximately £25 to as little as £10 a month and network availability now stretches to 95% of the UK – a development driven by a surge in demand as consumers realised the benefits of broadband on the go. If this trend is repeated with super-fast broadband, it would bring the technology within the reach of millions.
Encouraging innovation in online entertainment and competition amongst broadband providers is a much more viable route towards Digital Britain.