“Slowly but surely” is the glass-half-full outlook, I’m sure, but nevertheless another element that has been putting the brakes on the roll-out of fast broadband to rural areas in Northern England is about to be lifted.
As we commented earlier, the government had set aside £530m to make sure areas such as rural Northumberland, Cumbria, County Durham and rural North Yorkshire did not miss out on the faster Internet networks that are being installed in towns and cities.
However a fly landed well and truly in that ointment which meant that EU competition rules might be broken in the process.
Bidding Process for Fast Broadband in Rural Areas
The much lauded bidding process gradually came unstuck, in theory, as it emerged that only a handful of companies entered the bidding process. That further deteriorated, and lead to possible competition concerns, when BT was left as the sole bidder in most areas when the other companies in the mix withdrew their tenders.
Cue: The EU Competition Commission
Not unreasonably, clarification as to competitive fairness was sought and it is understood the EU competition commissioner (quick pop-quiz: who can name ‘him’? No, we don’t know either) has given the “green light” to whole programme.
Fibre Optic Broadband For Rural Northumberland
So it seems rural areas, businesses and homes alike will soon have access to fast broadband. The actual “green light” is understood to be published very soon
"It is our understanding that the commission is on track to issue its final decision in late October or early November, which will allow projects to get under way," said a Department for Culture Media and Sport (DCMS) spokesman.
In August, Ofcom announced that 4G (fourth-generation wireless) was coming to the UK 12 to 18 months ahead of schedule by virtue of the mobile phone operator Everything Everywhere (EE) being given the nod to use its existing frequencies for 4G.
It was a reasoned and logical decision but one that also upset the other mobile providers because they do not have the frequencies to do the same and would be hobbled until the conclusion of the scheduled 4G auction. An auction timetabled for conclusion in late 2013.
4G Access Across The Board
That decision threw the cat in amongst the pigeons with threat of legal action, blah blah, from the other mobile operators because of the competitive advantage EE would gain by Ofcom’s decision.
Today, Ofcom are chairing a meeting (“peace talks”) between it and all of the major mobile phone operators to stay the hand of the lawyers.
Significantly it seems that Ofcom have good news to placate the mobile operators. The date of the proposed auction can only be advanced, from January, by a couple of weeks but Ofcom is reporting that significant progress has been made to clear the wireless spectrum (currently used by analogue TV and air traffic control) much earlier than the end of 2013 as was expected.
There will be a lot more news later today, I’m sure, after the meeting. Watch this space.
Meanwhile, Rory Cellan-Jones in his blog at the Beeb comments:
All in all, Ofcom believes that EE's period of being the only 4G game in town will shrink from as much as 18 months to as little as six months. O2 in particular will want to see the fine print before telling its masters at Telefonica that this deal is acceptable. But it seems likely that they will sign up rather than risk being seen as the company which delayed the arrival of a vital technology for the UK.
And if it does all work out, Ofcom will be entitled to feel just a little smug. By taking a risk with its EE ruling, it will have forced the whole mobile industry to focus on a faster transition to 4G.
Every now and then you'll ask yourself "who uses the fax these days?" It is a question usually prompted by being asked to fax something yourself. Bizarrely, given the industry the work in, the twice most recent times we've encountered it has been with domain name registrars.
Global Professional Opinion of Out-of-date Office Tech.
A 7,000 head survey of global professionals conducted by LinkedIn compiles to produce a list of office tools that most respondents think will have gone the way of the DoDo by 2017, 5 years hence.
- Tape recorders (79% )
- Fax machines (71% )
- The Rolodex (58% )
- Standard working hours (57% )
- Desk phones (35% )
- Desktop computers (34%)
- Formal business attire like suits, ties, pantyhose, etc. (27% )
- The corner office for managers/executives (21% )
- Cubicles (19% )
- USB thumb drives (17% )
Tablets Rule The Future
Those who responded to the survey also pointed to existing technologies that will become more prevalent in the same time period, as well as what "dream tools" they would like to see come into being.
Globally, professionals selected tablets (55% ), cloud storage (54% ), flexible working hours and smartphones (which tied at 52% ) as office tools that are becoming more ubiquitous. Professionals in the U.S. selected tablets (62% ) as the office tool that is ruling the Earth.
Wouldn't It Be Nice If...
Professionals from around the world also hinted at several key dream tools they’d like to see in the future. These include having a clone or assistant to help you in your day (25% ), a place in the office that provides natural sunlight (25% ) and a quiet place in your office where you’re allowed to take a nap (22%). In a funny twist, nineteen percent of respondents said they wish they had a mute button for their co-workers, so they don’t have to hear them talk.
Interesting list of "wants" there, time will tell which come into being.
UK Broadband Roll-out To Get A Boost.
The government is set to relax planning permission restrictions and red tape to speed up the roll-out of faster Internet speeds across the UK.
Previous announcements had confirmed £680m was ear-marked to provide investment by the government into “superfast” broadband however its roll-out has been hindered by “bureaucratic” planning rules the gov’t has admitted.
Super-fast 4G Available in UK from Sept 11th 2012
A decision by Ofcom yesterday means that 4G mobile broadband will finally reach Britain next month (Sept.).
In an unexpected move Orange and T-Mobile customers in the UK will be able to deploy 4G networks from September 11th 2012, although the exact roll-out will be left to the company itself.
First thoughts are that consumers benefit but the savvy business will benefit too!