Menu Content/Inhalt
Broadband coverage – concerns raised over EU claims PDF Print E-mail
Written by GI Global   
Wednesday, 02 May 2012 08:21

CMA logoConcern has been raised over a recent European Commission claim regarding the achievement of Member States.

The EC report stated: "Eight Member States (Denmark, Finland, France, Luxembourg, Latvia, Malta, Netherlands and the United Kingdom) have already achieved full coverage for basic broadband services".

In a strongly worded letter to European Commissioner Neelie Kroes, the International Telecoms User Group (INTUG) wrote: ‘ Our UK Member, CMA, and the UK Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) met recently with OfCom and UK Government representatives at the UK Houses of Parliament to discuss broadband roll out.

It was clear from the discussion that full coverage for basic broadband is still far from being achieved in the UK.  This misrepresentation of a reality has been a consistent concern of users in the UK since BT's often quoted claim of 99.6% coverage of broadband, which was similarly misleading.’

The INTUG letter prompts yet again issues of integrity in the presentation of data – concerns that governments, in their zeal to claim policy progress, may lose sight of the reality experienced everyday by millions of businesses and citizens and the negative impacts on economic growth and envionmental policy. 

The Olympic track record for data dishonesty is, however, under dispute.  Fresh contenders outside of the networking and environment sectors are seeking to qualify – the latest being denial of massive queues for passport clearance at UK airports.

Attempts at misrepresentation in whatever field do, however, carry useful clues for policy campaigners - whether for sustainability, for better broadband, or for economic growth.  It reveals the policy sensitivities of administrations that are only reluctantly ‘open’ in their dealings with the public and their concerns to protect vested interests.

This ‘billboard poster’ approach to advertising a country’s status is however doomed to failure.  Encouragingly, Internet-enabled services are steadily exposing the realities and leaving less room for institutionalized dishonesty.

Two great examples of this can be found. Firstly the work by ‘Sam Knows’ (for an EU-sponsored project) aims to capture the reality of broadband users’ experience through a large sample with data collection via specially-designed units to plug in to each user’s hub/router.

The second example can be found via the open data available via Google and Net-index. Currently this only has the flexibility to show upload and download network performance (as seen from the consumer end of the line) but you can see the possibilities. Before long we might even have real data on the shocking variability of some of these access services – particularly those claiming to provide higher performance.

We should all applaud the moves towards ‘open’ data. Those in government who have not yet fully understood the digital empowerment of people will soon find that there is less and less room to hide the realities – and maybe then we can hope for evidence-based policy development that is not subject to political or corporate wishful thinking.


This editorial was written for members of the UK' Communication Management Association (CMA) - a part of the BCS, the chartered society for ICT professionals.

Readers of this page also viewed 'Slowly the penny drops' (GI Global) and 'Sustainability: the end game for the next generation' (Marit Hendriks)


Last Updated on Thursday, 03 May 2012 07:12

Valid CSS!