Digital Britain Report Published

The Government has published The Digital Britain Report, its strategic vision for ensuring that the UK is at the leading edge of the global digital economy.

The report provides actions and recommendations to promote and protect talent and innovation in our creative industries, to modernise TV and radio frameworks and support local news, and introduces policies to maximise the social and economic benefits from digital technologies.

The Report is one of the central policy commitments in the Government’s Building Britain’s Future plan and draft legislative programme.

Digital Britain measures include:

– A three-year National Plan to improve Digital Participation

– Universal Access to today’s broadband services by 2012

– Next Generation fund for investment in tomorrow’s broadband services

– Digital radio upgrade by the end of 2015

– Mobile spectrum liberalisation, enhancing 3G coverage and accelerating Next Generation mobile services

– Robust legal and regulatory framework to combat Digital Piracy

– Support for public service content partnerships

– A revised digital remit for Channel 4

– Consultation on funding options for national, regional and local news

Following the announcements in the Digital Britain Report KPMG commented on some the impacts of some of Lord Carter’s announcements:

Fixed and mobile broadband rollout – Chris Woodland, Communications, Associate Partner at KPMG, commented: “The proposed Next Generation Fund presents new opportunities for service providers to deploy broadband networks to the final third of the UK population.
“But the strength of the investment incentive will depend on the associated regulation, as yet unknown – will, for example, these service providers be forced to open these networks to 3rd parties in due course?

“Mobile operators will benefit from greater certainty in owning 3G licences indefinitely and from Ofcom’s desire to promote further levels of network-sharing, but this will be tempered a little by the unknown quantum and changes in any additional costs payable as an Administrative Incentive Pricing (AIP)”.

He adds, “Clear messaging around the desire to promote network-sharing does raise the possibility that Ofcom may look sympathetically upon the prospect of fewer mobile networks operating in the UK in the long term.”

David Thomas, Head of Communication Regulation, at KPMG commented: “Residential consumers, SMEs and teleworkers are likely to be disappointed by the lack of ambition for universal broadband speeds of only 2 megabits per second.

“However this low target is not surprising, given the lack of available Government funding due to the current economic environment and the industry view that customers will be unwilling to may much more for broadband.”

“This is in stark contrast to the radical plans announced in Australia to spend £21 billion, funded jointly by Government and industry.”

ISPs obligations – Mark Harding, Director of Intellectual Property, KPMG commented:
“The three pronged approach announced in the Digital Britain report to tackle the issue of Intellectual Property piracy is to be welcomed ie providing a framework that encourages the growth of legal markets for downloading, educating consumers as to what is and isn’t legal and imposing sanctions when the law is broken.

“However, it is on this last point that the report may not go far enough in defining the obligations of ISPs and Ofcom, the lack of a more structured approach is likely to result in further protracted debate on this issue, all the while piracy continues to grow through out the UK. Has an opportunity been missed to force the conclusion on what has already been a drawn out debate between ISPs and rights owners?”