Tag Archives: Broadband

A is for Advergame; B is for Banner…

Children today are growing up in a digital society. They will never know what it was like living in a world without the internet or mobile devices. They are digital savvy and their distinction between offline and online worlds increasingly blurs by the day. But being media savvy is not the same as being media literate.

 

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A BBC licence fee for a digital age?

The Government – pioneered by the departing Communications Minister, Lord Carter – today unveiled its final Digital Britain report.

There is welcome acknowledgement of the contribution digital advertising – in particular targeted advertising – will make in helping to monetise online content.  The Government also attaches significant importance to self-regulation and education in promoting transparency and protecting internet users’ online privacy, supporting the IAB’s Good Practice Principles for behavioural advertising, as well as www.youronlinechoices.co.uk, the new portal to help educate users.  There is also encouraging news in the appointment of Martha Lane-Fox, one of the pioneers of digital commerce, as the Government’s digital inclusion champion.

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Plumbing, poetry, pirates and…people?

 

 

Last Friday’s Digital Britain Summit at The British Library was themed as an event to discuss the ‘plumbing’ (ie broadband infrastructure) and ‘poetry’ (ie the content) – this is Lord (Stephen) Carter’s very own analogy.  Its importance to the Government was on show for all to witness: four senior government ministers, including the Prime Minister, Gordon Brown.  He, Culture Secretary Andy Burnham and Business Secretary Lord (Peter) Mandelson all made key note speeches and the author of the Digital Britain project himself, Lord Carter, was a panelist.

 

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Digital Britain…kindly brought to you by advertising (part 2)

Over the last few months I’ve written a number of blogs about the Digital Britain project, the Government’s blueprint for the UK’s digital economy.  This kicked off last November with a blog arguing that the internet will help the UK economy out of its current recession, followed in late January with the first in the series of ‘Digital Britain…kindly brought to you by advertising’ blogs (this is the second!) which highlighted the Government’s underplaying of the role and value of advertising to the digital economy in its interim report.  In late February, I talked of the ‘green shoots of opportunity’ and the Government’s failure – in its interim report – to recognise the UK as one of the best places in the world to do ‘digital business’.

 

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Digital Britain…kindly brought to you by advertising

Communications and Technology Minister, Stephen Carter, today finally published his eagerly awaited Digital Britain interim reportThe ‘talk’ and speculation in the run-up to publication had been about the BBC and public service broadcasting/publishing and ‘broadband for all’.  Would the Government suggest a collaboration between the commercial BBC Worldwide and cash-strapped Channel 4? (it does but doesn’t rule out other options) and will there be high-level commitments for broadband access? (there are). Despite criticism from opposition political parties that the 2Mbs universal broadband commitment is weak, it is a significant move.  It is also welcome that the report suggests unleashing mobile operators from spectrum licence agreements encouraging them to do their bit in delivering this commitment.  This could enable us to access content and services wherever, however and whenever.  The Government hasn’t ruled out giving public money to help this universal broadband commitment either.  The final report is due in the summer, but this interim document states the importance of online advertising to the UK digital economy: “Britain has the highest proportion of internet advertising than any developed economy”.  However it does seem to question its value to the digital economy and funding creative content.  Among the 22 recommendations within the 86-page interim report is an action to “examine measures needed to address the challenges for digital content, including opportunities for providing further support to foster UK creative ambition and alternative funding mechanisms to advertising revenues”. Online will soon be the largest advertising medium in the UK.  It pays for free content and services: from search engines to social networks.  It’s no surprise that the Government believes that a “successful Britain is a digital Britain”, playing a vital role in dragging the economy out of recession.  However, given this and our world-beating position in online advertising, it seems slightly bizarre that it remains to be convinced as to whether advertising is the right model for the digital age.  Nevertheless, the point of an interim report is for discussion and debate.  Clearly there’s plenty of this to do.

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Thank you Virgin…next please!

Merry Christmas!  And what better Christmas present could there be than super-fast broadband to watch all your favourite festive TV programmes and movies (don’t forget Mary Poppins!) as well as browse all that wonderful online content while others in the family enjoy a mince pie and watch the Queen address the nation at 3 o’clock on the dot (set your Sky+ or watch it on Her Majesty’s You Tube channel).  So its a big welcome this week for Virgin’s announcement of the launch of its 50 Megabits per second domestic fibre-optic broadband service (otherwise known as ‘XXL broadband’).  Next generation broadband here we come!
 
Even better news is the announcement that the service will be rolled out across the UK in the next few months.  Virgin’s press release is a little unclear as to what this actually means though.  Does country-wide mean that those of us that live in the more rural parts of Britain, who have been experiencing life in the broadband ‘slow lane’ for some time now, will suddenly be able to watch streamed video and television with no interuptions by next summer?  Copper has served us well: no one really dreamed up us doing anything more than talking to each other all those years ago.  High-definition television was unthinkable then.  Today the BBC’s iPlayer and YouTube each take up to 10 per cent of broadband bandwidth (it doesn’t surprise me that Internet Service Providers – squeezed at every level by competition and regulation – are crying out for content providers to put some money in the ‘fibre optic pot’) and we’re going to need faster internet speeds if we are to continue to enjoy these data-rich services, such as television (perhaps one day in 3D?), video, gaming and music.  More importantly, it will be more than necessary if one or more people in a household are accessing these services at the same time, as is fairly likely.
 
Thankfully, this issue is at the top of the Government’s agenda and this is reflected in the development of a Digital Britain Plan, to be published in June 2009.  The regulatory issues around ‘access’ to wholesale products (such as those provided by BT and Virgin) are complex but critical to competition and affordability, but its good to see Virgin taking the lead and making the investment (as – to be fair – BT has also done).  The public is crying out for these services and we depend on faster broadband to deliver them to ensure that we…wait for it…have a supercalifragilisticexpialidocious online experience!

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