"Proper digital connectivity is key both to the well-being of many communities and to Britain's economic future. Yet many people and businesses are unable to receive the digital access and services they need. This inquiry is designed to find out exactly why that is, and how to fix it."
And so begins the opening statement by the new chairman of the Culture, Media and Sport Select Committee, Jesse Norman, regarding their new "Inquiry into establishing world-class connectivity throughout the UK". Opened on the 27th of July, closing submissions are due by 30th September.
Designed? Fix it? I see: Vanity of Vanity. All is Vanity!
Note also the two key loaded phrases: well-being and world-class. Hence, it appears to me that Norman is not approaching this endeavour from an open-minded perspective. In short, Norman has an agenda here. He has not yet revealed his hand yet but we are, after all, still in the new parliaments first 100 Days. It appears also to me that Norman is intent on playing to the terraces here but I sincerely hope that this exercise does not degenerate, to use the English football metaphor, into "two world wars and one world cup" idealism.
Recall that in the last parliament the CMS Select Committee, led by Whittingdale, produced a report on Spectrum, which critiqued the holdups surrounding the UK 4G Spectrum Auction and issues surrounding the co-existence of wireless microphones deployed by the events industry. Also recall that Hunt, then CMS Secretary, when giving evidence stated that it is when 4G is 50% rolled out that we shall see the uptake in jobs and creative endeavours regarding App development. So, true! The corollary however to Hunt's positive statement is that the other half who are left behind shall be severely handicapped commercially. But they shall eventually catch up, if they survive that is. Rural issues raised back there were and still are a separate issue.
What biographical data do we know about Norman? He became a member in the 2010 intake and previously he was on the Treasury Select Committee. But the very serious point to know is that in leading the rebellion against House of Lords Reform, as was reported at the time, he succeed by maliciously misrepresenting the views of Cameron to backbenchers. Never forget that Jesse Norman, a former director of Barclays, is still a banker at heart and between Norman and Chancellor Osborne there also is history as the saying goes. Therefore it shall be interesting to see how the Chancellors Northern Powerhouse agenda plays with the new committee. Oh, and another thing, Norman also harbours Conservative Party leadership ambitions! So I shall deviate from my usual format and take an extended view in this blog of what we and Sharon White at Ofcom face in the next five years.
Incidentally, before we begin what was the gestation period of the 4G technologies now being rolled out globally? Also note that the initial US 4G Spectrum Auction was in 2008 - when was the UK's?
Looking First to the US
As usual I shall begin setting the context here by looking first to recent developments in the US.
The key aspect here to note is the statement and interview given by President Obama regarding how the US seeks to see the UK fully integrated into the EU with its decision making contribution there being seen as vitally in both countries national interests. But this aspect can keep for a later blog along with DSM and TTIP developments!
The second aspect here relates to the FCC Blog posting by Chairman Wheeler regarding "Leading towards Next Generation 5G mobile services". Note the word leading here used in both contexts.
Some key quotes from Chairman Wheeler setting out their forthcoming endeavours are:
"My goal is to foster an environment in which the widest possible variety of new technologies can grow and flourish. The Commission took the first step in the fall of 2014 when it adopted a Notice of Inquiry asking about expanded wireless use of higher-frequency bands. We expect to follow up on the Notice of Inquiry and issue a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) on the use of higher-frequency bands for mobile and other uses this year.
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