The UK’s current broadband policy, which will guide the sector’s development through to 2015 at least, is to a large measure based on Lord Carter’s Digital Britain report, released in June 2009 and since legislated for in the April 2010 Digital Economy Act. This proposed a number of recommendations to provide an improved broadband network for the country. One of the key tenets was the provision of at least 2Mb/s nationally by 2015 (put back from 2012 as a result of funding issues). The remaining 10% of premises which cannot be effectively served by fixed-line broadband are to be provisioned with mobile broadband. To this end, the regulator Ofcom is currently preparing for the late-2011 joint auction of 800MHz and 2.6GHz spectrum which will be utilized by operators for LTE services. In addition, refarmed 900MHz spectrum will also be allowed for mobile broadband.
The measures outlined in the Digital Economy Act were updated in July with a government ‘roadmap’ on how universal broadband is to be implemented in practice. The main milestones include completing the consultation on freeing up infrastructure (November 2010), completing the regulatory impact assessment report (September 2011), and having BT and other providers open their infrastructure to third parties (by November 2011).
Following the June 2010 election, the Coalition government appointed Ed Vaizey as Minister for Digital Britain, replacing Stephen Timms who as Financial Secretary at the Treasury had been the acting minister for Digital Britain. Jeremy Hunt, the Minister for Culture, Media and Sport in charge of telecoms and responsible for seeing the delivery of broadband, also has a significant role in policy issues and implementation.