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acme (189)

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Leon Brocard (aka acme) is an orange-loving Perl eurohacker with many varied contributions to the Perl community, including the GraphViz module on the CPAN. YAPC::Europe was all his fault. He is still looking for a Perl Monger group he can start which begins with the letter 'D'.

Journal of acme (189)

Wednesday June 17, 2009
06:11 AM

Digital Britain

[ #39136 ]

"The Digital Britain Report is the Government's strategic vision for ensuring that the UK is at the leading edge of the global digital economy. It is an example of industrial activism in a crucial growth sector.

The report contains actions and recommendations to ensure first rate digital and communications infrastructure to promote and protect talent and innovation in our creative industries, to modernize TV and radio frameworks, and support local news, and it introduces policies to maximize the social and economic benefits from digital technologies."

Got me watching BBC Parliament to see the announcement.

The Digital Britain was down after the announcement, leading to amusing comments on twitter.

It is available in PDF and MS Word formats

The report itself is 245 pages and the executive summary has 83 points, so here are my notes:

JPEG artifacts by every page number

Chapter 2: Being Digital

Chapter 2 is entitled "Being Digital", same title as a great book by Nicholas Negroponte published in 1995 where he tries to predict how the technologies will evolve. It's far more futuristic than this report, and the rate of change since 1995 is impressive.

P27 "Universal Broadband Service, at a speed of 2 Megabits per second, by no later than 2012"

P30 "The financial savings flowing from an ability to use comparison websites and online-only deals are worth an average of around £23 per month, per individual"

Economic benefits of digital inclusion by UK Online Centres (which disables right-clicks on links so I couldn't copy and paste, sigh)

P32 "It is already increasingly the case that those without access to the Internet suffer economic disadvantage"

P33 "Awareness of the Internet was widespread with only 3% of respondents saying they had never heard it"

P36 "Many of these personal computers could be put to secondary use". Computers are cheaper now, but affordability is key

P40 This figure is pointless and shows consultants were involved

P44-45 Shows how some television programmes can drive people online

Chapter 3a: A Competitive Digital Communications Infrastructure

No, I'm not quite sure why it's 3a either

P47 "The UK’s communications infrastructure is a vital enabler for the country’s society, economy, safety, security and well being"

P47-48 "In the case of broadband, realising the full value of the copper network cost tens of millions of pounds of investment; replacing it with a fibre network will take billions"

P48 "Our communications infrastructure finds itself in continuing and rapid technology evolution, in which the new
generation already looks unambitious by the time is fully rolled out. The Integrated Services Digital Network (ISDN) promised the ultimate international goal in 1984 of two telephone lines and a 16 Kbps data link to every home. The
Total Access Communications (TACS) mobile networks licensed in 1984 was viewed as the foundation of modern mobile communications, while the Videotex Services heralded as the last word in browsing for information. Not
only were none of them the last word, they were not even the last generation of “modern” networks but the generation before. All have been overtaken."

P48 "Next generation fixed fibre and cable networks offer not just conventional high-definition video entertainment and
games, but potentially more revolutionary benefits for our economy and society – telepresence, e-healthcare in the home and, for small and medium sized businesses, access to cloud computing (which substantially cuts hardware
and application costs and allows much more rapid product and service innovation)" seems rather unambitious and and odd place to hype cloud computing

P49 "The pattern over the past 25 years has been the arrival of more advanced fixed and mobile networks at roughly 8-10 years intervals and it should come as no surprise that the next cycle is coming up fast"

P50 "The areas of the country that are covered by the Virgin Media network already have local optical fibre rings that run through Virgin’s street cabinets serving typically 500-1000 homes. Broadband coaxial cables then connect to individual homes. Coaxial cable can support 4 Gbps bandwidth on a shared basis. Virgin Media will this year extend its 50Mbps offering...". Errr, 4Gbps/500 is 8Mbps, not 50Mbps

P50 "The other half of the country is served nearly exclusively by BT’s copper network as the only fixed network"

P50 "Without action being taken it is possible that entire metro areas could suffer data ‘brown outs’"

P52 "For those households who have it, broadband has become an essential utility as important as electricity, gas or voice telephony"

P53 "Universal availability of today’s network essentially requires incremental upgrades of existing infrastructure and the costs are therefore limited to the hundreds of millions of pounds. Delivering tomorrow’s network essentially involves installing a new network or networks, and the costs are in the billions... We will therefore take action on two fronts. First, we will ensure delivery of the Universal Service Commitment at 2Mbps, and second we will take action separately to address the issue of next generation broadband availability". This is the most important point that
people who have not read the report fail to grasp.

P54 "and wireless network engineered solutions (including satellite)" implies that 330k homes might be able to get 2Mbps but with the high latency of going via satellites in geostationary orbit

P54 "c.11%, or about 2.75m, homes cannot readily get a 2Mbps (or higher) broadband service today"

P56 image showing that Wales is a broadband deadzone

P59: "There are genuine negative consequences for a country still connected to the Internet at 14.4 Kbps today. In twenty years’ time, countries still connected to the Internet at 3.3Mbps (or the 256 Kbps that characterises the up-link speeds for many consumers today) will similarly be left behind" is a rare reference to up-link.

P59 "We welcome the substantial investment already taking place, and are confident that the UK’s competitive markets will provide the stimulus for further investment without any Government intervention, providing competitive coverage of superfast, next generation broadband for between half and two-thirds of the population"

P60-62 has interesting comparisons on how Finland (1Mbps by 2010, 100Mbps to 99% by 2016), Germany (1Mbps by 2010, 50Mbps to 75% by 2014), USA (US$7.2bn investment), Australia (FTTH or wireless by 2017) and
New Zealand (FTTH to 75% proposal) are investing in broadband.

P62-63 show the costs involved rolling out FTTC (£400 per connection) or FTTH (£2000 per connection)

P63-64 "There is no obvious means whereby the market, unaided, will serve the final third of the population. We therefore propose a Final Third Project to deliver at least 90% coverage of Next Generation broadband for homes and businesses by 2017"

P64 "The Government intends to propose a small general supplement on all fixed copper lines... from 2010 for a Next Generation Fund.... of 50p per month on fixed lines" is odd as it is the only price mentioned per month instead of per annum.

P65 "can be expected to raise £150m-£175m a year for the Fund" - it's not that much money.

P67 "there is at present no wholesale offering over Virgin Media’s network, a fact which BT and others have claimed is a factor limiting service innovation"

P69-70 "Today there is near universal coverage of GSM... But the extensive coverage we now take for granted with GSM has not yet happened with 3G networks... For these reasons, if we eventually move to a phasing out of GSM networks in favour of the next generation, we might face the end of universal mobile coverage in the UK. There are strong public policy arguments for wishing to preserve very extensive coverage" so it looks like GSM is here to stay

P79 "The Government... will, as part of its integrated package, convert existing 3G licences from time limited to indefinite" to help get to universal coverage for mobile broadband

P82 "one option is to make the provision of high speed broadband services part of the rail franchise requirements for train operators"

P82 "On the underground, the London Olympics in 2012, which will be the most digital Olympics in history, seems a particularly good reason for the Mobile Network Operators to work with the Mayor of London to provide and fund solutions to take the initiative to improve the broadband mobile access for mobile customers travelling by Tube"

Chapter 3b: Going Digital

P92 "digital offers a number of possibilities for radio to grow"

P93 "Radio services on MW will either upgrade to DAB or, if they are within the ultra-local tier, to FM. This will deliver an upgrade from FM to DAB and from MW to FM... by 2013" so by 2015 we will all need DAB receivers instead of FM

P94 "Digital radio is not now, nor should it be in the future, a single platform medium"

P95 "We are clear that at least for the foreseeable future DAB is the right technology for the UK" but they will hedge their bets with DAB+ or DMB-A

P97 "At a national level we will look to the BBC to begin an aggressive roll-out of its national multiplex to ensure its national digital radio services achieve coverage comparable to FM by the end of 2014..."

Chapter 4: Creative Industries in the Digital World

P109 "a significant proportion of consumers are choosing to access digital content unlawfully, principally via unlawful peer-to-peer file sharing" is a lot of unlawful

P111 "the Government will also provide for backstop powers for... Blocking (Site, IP, URL), Protocol blocking, Port blocking, Bandwidth capping (capping the speed of a subscriber’s Internet connection and/or capping the volume of data traffic which a subscriber can access); Bandwidth shaping (limiting the speed of a subscriber’s access to selected protocols/services and/or capping the volume of data to selected protocols/services); Content identification and filtering– or a combination of these measures.

P117 "introduce exceptional statutory maxima of £50,000 for all IP offences" to match penalties for online and physical copyright infringement

P119 "Industry participants argue that consumers should pay for a ‘right to copy’, reimbursing the copyright holder for the privilege of (a) retaining a recording of the material, and (b) being able to watch the material outside of the linear broadcast window" - but the Government will to add this as a tax on recording devices

Chapter 5: Public Service Content in Digital Britain

P140 "Free is very difficult for any paid-for business models to compete with"

P143 "the Government has therefore decided to consult openly on the idea of a Contained Contestable Element of the
Licence Fee used by or channelled through other organisations, primarily for news" might well lead to the end of the BBC's unique way of funding

Chapter 6: Research, Education and Skills for Digital Britain

P186 "It will soon not be possible to run a business effectively unless it is equipped with high-bandwidth access to the Internet. These are the roads of the 21st Century... the UK Government must seek next generation access that is scalable to 1Gb/s and beyond"

Chapter 7: Digital Security and Safety

P190 "It is not the Government’s policy to react to the challenge of the change the Internet presents by retreating to a position of protectionism or oppressive regulation"

P195 "The Government will carry out a major test in late 2009 of our ability to manage and recover from a major loss of network capacity"

Chapter 8: The Journey to Digital Government

P209 "Almost half of the UK population today have used the Internet in the last year to access information about Government or local council services or completed a Government form or process online, according to Ofcom research"

P212-213 "In addition to the Public Service Network we need to be able to add business applications to create a ‘G-Cloud’, using Cloud Computing... The G-Cloud delivery model would also help make other parts of the Government IT marketplace more cost-effective, flexible and competitive... and it would reduce the barriers to entry to the Government marketplace for application and other IT vendors, including SMEs, who would be able to provide services running on standardised, secure infrastructure without having to incur the costs of establishing and accrediting their own infrastructure"

P216 "Geographical data sets present some of the most valuable assets from which to develop online applications and services" but no changes for the Ordnance Survey

P220 "Concerns over privacy are only multiplied when arms of Government areinvolved in data gathering"

Chapter 9: Delivering Digital Britain

P229 "There is no room for complacency. The Government intends to do all it can to achieve the policy objectives we set out in this report, and urges all others to join it in the effort. The prize on offer is great. It will require a common effort to achieve it"

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