UK telecoms regulator Ofcom has embarked on a frenzy of pre-Christmas publication and had concluded our broadband is still not good enough.
The Connected Nations 2016 report found things are headed in the right direction but still thinks operators need to do more, especially in terms of geographical coverage and quality of service. The key point of dogma for Ofcom seems to be 10 Mbps broadband, which has apparently become a basic human need alongside food, water and sanitation, and its sketchy availability in some rural areas.
“Mobile and broadband coverage continued to grow this year, but too many people and businesses are still struggling for a good service,” said Steve Unger, Ofcom Group Director. “We think that is unacceptable so we’re challenging mobile operators to go beyond built-up areas, and provide coverage across the UK’s countryside and transport networks. Today we’ve also provided technical advice to support the Government’s plans for universal, decent broadband.”
This 10 Mbps thing has been around for a while, with the UK government having picked it over a year ago. In an attempt to light a fire under UK operators Ofcom boss Sharon White has gone for the now standard technique of writing a public letter, in which she floated the idea of 100% geographical coverage.
“Whilst acknowledging the challenging economics of providing coverage in less populated areas, I would like to examine an aspiration of comprehensive coverage,” wrote White. Considering the availability of coverage to 100% of the UK’s geography would stretch our thinking as to what may be possible.
“There could be range of technical approaches and regulatory options, both existing and new, that can help materially move the dial. Some of these measures are already in the pipeline, ranging from the deployment of new technologies to improve indoor coverage, reform of planning rules and the opportunities that may be presented by the new Emergency Services Network sites. We have already said that we will consider new obligations in the context of the 700 MHz award. I am keen to examine all available options, including the most radical and ambitious solutions.”
Privately operators are likely to be unimpressed with this 100% aspiration and will certainly be thinking something along the lines of ‘you want it, you pay for it Shazza’. Here are the key data from the Connected Nations report and if you still crave more Ofcom insight the regulator has also published a Smartphone Cities report that looks at the performance of the for MNOs in some major UK cities.