When IT Meets Politics

Jul 25 2011   12:34PM GMT

Teaching Ducks to Fly – A constructive role for BDUK

Philip Virgo Profile: Philip Virgo

Tags:
BDUK
Broadband
Eurim

I have just been sent an english language copy of the Dutch Guidance on interpreting State Aid rules with regard to Broadband. It uses many examples from the UK.  It is five years old and some might argue that it is out of date, superceded by the 2009 Commission guidelines but I suspect this argument is specious because the “rules” underlying the guidance do not appear to have been changed by more recent decisions.  

Given that the EU policy is to use public financing in line with EU competition and State aid rules” to deliver 30 mbps to everyone by 2020 and 100 mdps to at least half, and given that UK policy is to have the best in Europe , it appears a no-brainer for BDUK to switch the effort it is spending on a dead-end framework that will lock communities into half that speed into guidance on how to use the rules to achieve government policy.

An up-to-date version of the Dutch material, whether or not the Commission decides to produce one itself, should the first leg.

Material on the current and emerging inter-operabilty standards that should be used to avoid being locked in to obsolescent or transient technologies should be the second leg. 

Enabling and encouraging the sharing of the many maps of current infrastructures that could/should be used to cut construction costs is the third leg. 

It can be argued that the Ofcom cap on BT prices where it is still a monopoly supplier (see my blog yesterday) provides the fourth  leg – and the rest can be left to  mix of community enterprise and market forces.  

BDUK can then work itself out of a job by delvering its objectives to short order. That does, however, require that its staff are motivated to do so. That is easier said than done.

When I did my programme management course at London Business School (nearly 40 years ago) we were told that the only certain way of bringing projects in on time is to ensure that the key staff knew their next project – want to move on to it – and know they will not be able to do so until that on which they are working on has passed its acceptance testing. 

The projects that followed that golden rule might not come in on budget – but they came on time and they worked. The world may have moved on since. Human nature has not.

Meanwhile the UK faces a massive challenge to rebuild its utility infrastructures (including communications) so that they are fit for the challenges of the future. There is more than enough work for the talents currently being wasted propping up the business models of the past. Hence the thrust of the policy studies currently being organised by the Information Society Alliance – EURIM

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