"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.
The NPRM will focus on developing a flexible regulatory framework that will allow maximum use of higher-frequency bands by a wide variety of providers, whether the service they provide is mobile, fixed, or satellite. I anticipate that we will explore a range of regulatory strategies depending on the specifics of each proposed higher-frequency band, including licensed, unlicensed, and hybrid shared models.
In addition, as an implementation of existing flexible rules, I foresee lower-frequency bands playing a role in 5G. For example, the timing of the incentive auction makes the 600 MHz band a prime candidate for deployment of a wide-area 5G coverage layer. In much the same way that 700 MHz paved the way for America's world-leading deployment of 4G, so could 600 MHz accelerate U.S. deployment of 5G.
We will also take an active role on 5G issues internationally, monitor standardization processes, and encourage globally harmonized spectrum for 5G to the extent possible.
At the upcoming 2015 World Radiocommunication Conference (WRC), we will continue to support harmonized international spectrum allocations for mobile broadband and will encourage the adoption of a plan for identifying spectrum for mobile technologies in higher-frequency bands with the aim of reaching decisions regarding spectrum for mobile use at the next WRC, which is expected to be held in 2019. Studying all of the spectrum above 6 GHz would be unfocused and would be resource intensive while identifying too few bands for study risks the possibility that none becomes viable. Accordingly, we need to identify enough bands likely to yield a successful outcome.
The spectrum bands proposed by the United States to be studied for consideration at WRC-19 include 27.5-29.5 GHz, 37-40.5 GHz, 47.2-50.2 GHz, 50.4-52.6 GHz, and 59.3-71 GHz. We will consider these bands, or a subset of the bands, in further detail in an upcoming NPRM, with the goal of maximum use of higher-frequency bands in the United States by a wide variety of providers. We are committed to working with both domestic and international partners on identifying spectrum and on conducting the necessary technical sharing and compatibility studies."
Simple really? Their strategy is: build-on-the-past-and-look-to-the-future.
In my previous blog I outlined how the US Spectrum Sharing Agenda begun in 2003 is now nearing fruition. I also outlined how the US is nearly half way to releasing its goal of an extra 500MHz of Federal Spectrum for broadband by 2020.
The third aspect not covered in the Chairman Wheeler's blog is that the FCC in early August adopted new rules to address the transitional needs of wireless microphone users by providing for continued access to the 600 MHz band and expanding access to other bands thus enabling new technologies of Spectrum Sharing to be begin to be deployed in this sector. Specifically, the new FCC rules:
* Provide more opportunities for licensed use in the remaining TV bands by allowing greater use of the VHF channels and permitting co-channel operations inside DTV contours without coordination if TV signals fall below specified threshold;
* Expand eligibility for licensed use of the 4-megahertz portion of the 600 MHz duplex gap to include all licensed users in the TV bands (broadcasters, cable programming networks, movie studios, and operators at major sporting/concerts/theatre venues); and
* Provide new opportunities for these licensed wireless microphones to operate on a secondary basis in three additional spectrum bands, consistent with the Commission's spectrum management goals - (1) access to significantly more spectrum in the 900 MHz band; (2) access to a portion of the 1435-1525 MHz band at specified times and places, subject to coordination requirements that protect critical aeronautical mobile telemetry; and (3) access to portions of the 6875-7125 MHz band.
What are OFCOM doing here in the UK for live events management to enable the UK to participate in this new innovative spectrum sharing marketplace? Or shall we just continue to buy American?
Back to the Home Front:
First, why did the UK Government announce the status of the Broadband roll-out on the 12th of August, the first day of the Grouse Shooting Season? And why was this status not accepted and believed by the All Party Group on Rural Broadband?
Hence, in essence the simple answer to the scope of this Culture, Media and Sport Inquiry is already well known. It comes down to people and resources. Just as it always does! Given the current controversy regarding BT, and the background of the Communications Review underway at OFCOM I would suggest the following open questions to the committee.
a) What is the skill level required for Openreach technicians?
b) How long does it take to train one?
c) How many more are needed?
d) What shall you do with these technicians once the BT Broadband network is planted?
Thereafter, has Norman and the rest of the committee read last year's House of Lords Inquiry relating to Digital Skills or the Inquiry concerning Overcoming the Valley of Death outlining the hoops technology companies in the UK have to go through?
Incidentally just how much historical personal responsibility has Norman for the banking culture in this country directed towards (against?) Technology companies from his tenure pre-1997?
Norman should also dust off the previous committees Eight Report into Spectrum from October 2011 and last year's DCMS UK Spectrum Strategy. [Particularly Figure 4?]
Thus I would humbly suggest that before Norman embarks on this Inquiry any further he revisits some of these issues and does his homework.
Wellbeing and World-class
I have previously brought the reader's attention to the subject of Wellbeing Policy and its prominent relationship to overcoming some of the issues with measuring GDP, by the Treasury, and the turmoil the ONS is currently going through as it migrates to tackle the Big Data Agenda [note also the Science and Technology Committee's current The Big Data Dilemma Inquiry]. Aside therefore from pointing to the still unresolved issue of one word or two spelling context discussed previously at the British Academy this year, I shall skip further comment on the Wellbeing Agenda here.
Instead, I shall merely state that to be world-class you first have to be capable of being a world leader. Obviously! Would not Chairman Wheeler and President Obama and readers agree with me?
In the communication field, UK plc, long, long ago when Norman was a banker (circa the end of the Cold War when Marconi, Ferranti Racal, Plessey were all disembowelled) abdicated any ambition or intention of keeping up with the US in this field. What was lost was not just the Institutional Memory of these companies but the apprenticeships that oil manufacturing. This is only now being addressed. Consider that I have previously written regarding RSRE: once it is gone it is gone.
So, in the UK what we have been left with is a technical rump at British Aerospace, Rolls-Royce, DSTL, QinetiQ and elsewhere pockets of exceptional specialist world-class skills sets such as at ARM [How long was the convoluted route from Inmos here?]
Also as we know the government has now put all its eggs into the Broadband Satellite Agenda with Surrey [UCL is a separate issue]. Again how many years has been the gestation period here? Hence, it appears to me that Norman needs to get in touch with physical reality and not play to the terraces.
That is not to say that the UK does not possess any great technologies aka the Chancellors Eight Great Technologies malarkey. But potential is one thing, producing technology companies of the scale and depth to compete against and best the Americans in the term of this five year parliamentary calendar is just not going to happen. Why so? Actually it is fundamentally a banking issue surrounding the culture Norman hails from. Also his former employers at Barclays have gone from being in the top 3 global banks, measured by assets in 2008, to where now? Barclays World-Class? Nope, no longer!
So, what is there for Norman to fix? And just how would a banker go about it? And more importantly what are his timescales?
Historically prior to 1914 all scientific research and development was performed by the ancient universities and scientific institutions with virtually all of it being privately funded. Shall we eventually go back to this funding model? Perhaps. After this war, with these institutions on their knees and near bankruptcy, the British Government (as did other governments worldwide) stepped up to the research plate. In the UK this remained the case until the EU took up the cheque book. Currently the EU provides œ1.2bn with 11% going to the Russell Group of 24 universities.
When was the crossover anyone? Personally I would put it at July 1979 and the beginning of the last bought of UK Privatisation: lots where gained but lots were lost. Are their lessons here for the current Chancellor regarding selling of the MET Office, Ordinance Survey and Hydrographic Office from the states portfolio held by the Shareholder Executive? What people, resources and capabilities would be lost? As for Channel 4, DCMS and Ofcom aspects aside, any takers? Personally I have mixed views here as these endeavours could provide benchmarks for world-class enterprises but I suspect that the funding to establish truly global reach in the private sector would not be forthcoming and they would end-up as diminished rump enterprises. Again it's an RSRE and people thing. Also recall the recent defensive moves by the German automobile manufactures to acquire Nokia's Finnish GPS mapping enterprise arm. What lessons have they learned looking to the future regarding Swarm-Intelligence and AI that is pertinent to these public owned endeavours?
So where would the reader begin to fix the UK? Loaded question? Perhaps.
Why am I being so cynical? Or am I merely being realistic and under no illusions of the gravity of the challenge facing the UK science and technology base?
Just read what I believe are parochial the questions they are seeking to address in this Inquiry:
1) What role should Government, OFCOM and industry play in extending superfast broadband to hard-to-reach premises?
2) Is there sufficient competition in these markets? If not, how can any market failures best be addressed given the investment already made?
3) What are the commercial, financial and technical challenges the program faces in reaching the final 5%? What technologies exist to overcome them? What investment is required, by whom and for what return?
4) Given that in practice a Universal Service Obligation could not capture 100% of households, what should a USO for broadband look like?
5) What are other countries doing to reach the 'not-spots'? How affordable are their solutions?
6) Should Government be investing in more research and development into finding innovative solutions to meet the communication needs of remote communities?
7) Are BT and other communication companies investing sufficiently themselves in reaching these groups?
8) What investment and progress are the mobile network operators making in improving mobile coverage across the UK and enabling a swifter process when users choose to change provider? How could these best be improved?
9) How have the existing Government broadband programmes been delivered?
Regarding the prospect for a Universal Service Obligation, I would begin with two conditions for a fixed line broadband connection: does the premises have a post code and electricity?
If so, there you have your answer. Simply really! All the rest is political will and thus it shall cost what it costs.
Regarding wireless mobile not-spots that is a completely different technical challenge. The mobile challenge up till 4G was the Near-Far Problem but the technical challenge for Spectrum Sharing and Dynamic Spectrum Access is what exactly? Therefore reread the Inquiry questions and see if you can detect this distinction being present. It is not clear to me that it is so. Is the not-invented-here syndrome at play again?
Also what shall be the uplink data rate and bandwidth for global harmonised mHealth applications in a USO? Oh Dear! I shall be content to leave this to the US and the EU to harmonise the technical specifications. Oh yes, just how many MP's would be re-elected if they advocated the NHS serving only 95% of the population?
CMS Priorities for new Chief Executive of Ofcom hearing 21st July: Sharon White
Let's cast our minds back to the CMS Fourth Select Committee Report from 2002 which states:
The Government's ambitions for the UK communications sector
21. The Government has a number of ambitions for the communications sector. Three objectives were set out in the 2000 white paper:
* to make the UK home to the most dynamic and competitive communications and media market in the world;
* to ensure universal access to a choice of diverse services of the highest quality; and
* to ensure that citizens and consumers are safeguarded.
22. The Government has some further objectives, including:
* to convert TV broadcasters and viewers to digital TV and switch off the analogue signal so as to free up spectrum for other uses (such as telecommunications);
* to ensure universal Internet access across the UK by 2005; and
to create in the UK the most extensive and competitive broadband market in the G7 group of countries by 2005.
Indeed! So, what happened next?
In her first speech, The Consumer and Citizen at the heart, from 11th June delivered to the Which organisation Sharon states:
It is set out in Ofcom's founding statute - the 2003 Communications Act:
"It shall be the principal duty of Ofcom, in carrying out their functions;
a) to further the interests of citizens in relation to communications matters; and
b) to further the interests of consumers in relevant markets, where appropriate by promoting competition."
When Ofcom was established, access to a reliable internet connection or mobile phone was a 'nice to have'.
Now it is essential to the functioning of the economy, to the way people work and live their lives. It has become a necessity in the same way as gas or electricity or running water.
Interestingly all mention of their duty of Optimising Spectrum has been dropped! Note also the reversal in all Ofcom literature of Citizen and Consumer: a legacy of Collette Bowe.
Woman and Equality
In my last blog I alluded to the fact that I was unhappy with the all-male composition the new CMS Select Committee, which being headed up by a banker comes with all the stereotypical cultural mores of that particular hedonistic and sexist City banker's club culture.
Recall as technologists we understand how the Apple iPhone was explicitly designed with woman as consumers in mind. We also know how the automobile industry has gone through a revolution in catering for woman customers. What new services shall the US broadband providers look to provide the other half of humanity in the future?
Therefore being alert to this undercurrent and in order to benchmark the committee where do you suspect I would turn too? The recent Davis Report or Korn Ferry report on FTSE board compositions?
Nope, actually, it is the World Economic Forum from 2014 and The Global Gender Gap Report. It relates to 142 countries and divides its findings into four categories a) Economic Participation and Opportunity b) Education c) Political Empowerment and d) Health and Survival. Therein it states that Iceland has the smallest gap. The US is in 20th place and the UK is in 26th place. As for Italy it is way down in 69th place. Oh Dear! I shall resist getting drawn into any correlation between Icelandic and Italian stereotypes perceptions.
However, with this banker's cultural background in mind I suggest that the reader checks-out the Parliament TV coverage of the hearing of the Sharon White confrontation. For a confrontation it was. Failing that consider the following opening exchange from the hearing which set the tone:
Q5 Chair: I understand. Did you have any media and telecoms experience prior to coming into the job?
Sharon White: The sector is pretty new for me. Obviously in my previous role at the Treasury I dealt with public spending right across the board, so that meant certainly the areas of DCMS spending, certainly the areas around broadband and BDUK. I used to be the chair of a body called the Major
Projects Review Group, which used to review and oversee for the Chief Secretary all the big and medium-sized risky projects for Government, including broadband. Obviously I was part of a group that is looking at the whole of the macro economy. Telecoms and the communications sector is the
second largest sector in the economy, so obviously from a broader macro economy, the competition framework, that is something that I was reasonably closely involved in.
Q6 Chair: Right, but these are quite technical areas, both in the sense that they are technology-driven-
Sharon White: Yes, of course.
Chair: -and often quite economically complex, and also because they are highly regulated. It is true, is it not, that you have not had any direct experience of either the media or the telecom sectors before you took this job?
Sharon White: Yes, it is true. I do not come and do not pretend to come as an expert in either sector.
Q7 Chair: I understand, but whereas Ed Richards, your predecessor, had
an extensive experience in the area.
Sharon White: He had. As people know, he came with a BBC background. He had been part of the team within No. 10 but had developed the policy and then the Communications Act for 2002, the policy work, and then the legislation for 2003. My background is obviously very different. I think I bring different and relevant skills but I do not bring sector-specific expertise that is right.
Indeed, I should point out at this stage that Norman has no media experience! Accordingly there is a word for his line of questioning. It begins with an "H".
But nevertheless, whisper it, Sharon White is intellectually smarter than the whole of the current makeup of the committee combined. She is one of the brightest and best of the current crop of senior mandarins who has been parachuted in, with the Cameron's consent, to achieve what exactly? Hence, Norman's Old Etonian superiority complex appears to me to be a mask for his well-hidden inferiority. Therefore I sincerely hope that we are not in for a further five years of this line of questioning. Recall that I previously wrote that Norman would have a hard act to follow in Whittingdale?
Whittingdale, was authoritative and had the confidence to permit his committee members to do the majority of questioning. Whereas of the 56 questions posed to Sharon White, 25 came from Norman himself, with old stalwarts Paul Farrelly, Damian Collins, newcomer Nigel Adams and the other six members the committee all delegated to 2 or 3 questions each. This was supposed to be about interviewing Sharon and setting priorities not a setting the stage for the Jesse Norman appreciation society! Vanity of Vanity all is Vanity!
Consider therefore whither Norman has gone the way of men who are blinded by riches, power and self-seeking pleasure (he plays the trumpet!). Enough said.
I shall relate some further aspects of the exchange:
Q8 Chair: Have you found it hard to get on top of many different aspects of the job?
Sharon White: It is a very interesting question. I have spent 26 years in broadly the public sector but doing a very wide range of different, economically-related issues, from welfare to development to justice issues, so in a sense I have a lot of intellectual tractability. I am used very much to picking up new issues. What has been interesting is that picking up the technical side of it has been-others may judge this better than me- fascinating, and I think I have come on at pace the last three months. I think the biggest issue for me is more that I used to be a civil servant sitting at committees like this alongside a Minister, and now you have the advantages of the direct, personal and public accountability, and that is probably more of a change for me, to be frank. I trained as a microeconomist, and much of what we do is dealing with important, technical, complex microeconomic issues alongside the commercial locus of some of the most critical industries in the economy. That is a very familiar role to me at high level, if not in detail. It really is a transfer from being a public servant to being more front and centre that is the biggest transition.
Q9 Chair: One way of putting this is to say you cannot hide behind the economics; you have to make judgments.
Sharon White: Yes, absolutely. You cannot hide behind a Minister, and that is the great thing about heading an organisation that is professional and evidence-based.
Q10 Chair: That is interesting. Over the weekend, the Chief Executive of BT was interviewed and seemed to be saying that any attempt to separate out Openreach from the rest of BT would be met with 10 years of litigation. What do you make of that?
Sharon White: I think you know that we published a report last week, in which we said we are reviewing the current arrangements for functional separation, of which structural separation is one option, but we were looking at other options too, including the status quo and strengthening the current arrangements, as well as deregulation. We are some way from making a decision. Clearly, the other thing we have said about the report is we are taking this forward without, in a sense, reference to the current EU framework for telecoms regulation or indeed the Communications Act because we want essentially to figure out what the right answer is without legislative constraint. If that is the position we get to, we have not yet worked through from that what the detailed legislative implications would be and whether that would need a change in the European framework, which I think the Committee will know is under discussion anyway.
Q11 Chair: Do you think it was appropriate for the Chief Executive of BT to be threatening litigation for 10 years within a week of the publication of the report?
Sharon White: Where I hope we will get to with BT, which I am pretty confident of, is that we will have some very open and constructive discussions on the evidence of how well Openreach has worked and whether there are reforms that we might make that could be even more effective for the consumer.
Q12 Chair: How far will these threats intimidate Ofcom in terms of the decisions you are going to make?
Sharon White: I cannot say I am easily intimidated. Our driver is: what is going to be the best possible deal for the consumer? We do not start from a position that the Openreach separation is broken, because if you look at how the market has delivered over the last 10 years, of which regulation has been a part of it-but most of this has been through the efforts of the companies themselves-it is not a broken position. I would like to have an evidence based conversation with BT and with the other players about how we, for the next 10 years, get to a settlement that works best for the consumer.
Judgements! Threats! Figure out what the right answer is without legislative constraint! Indeed! Decoding mandarin speak from the utterly brilliant reply of Sharon's to Q10 is simply this: the Ed Richards Communications Act of 2003 is dead but not yet buried - when I have decided what to replace it with, oh, and I shall consult with the rest the mandarins and the EU, first before I get back to you! Brilliant! Brilliant! Utterly brilliant!
Being fair to Ed at this point I shall refer the reader to his last appearance before the House of Lords Communication Committee honestly summarising the true position, which I find myself by and large in agreement with.
Hence, current arguments concerning splitting BT and Openreach are premature and for the birds.
Once the UK is fully covered by a rolled out broadband network with 100% both geographical and population wise coverage (for everyone who wants a digital connection that is) that is the time to be looking at competition issues regarding content and services and delivery.
Now come the crux of the exchanges relating to Q38/Q39:
Q38 Chair: Just to follow up on that quickly, though, Ms White, does that mean you think that Ofcom ought to have a role in helping to shape an industry response to the problem, to actually give some leadership so that instead of fighting with each other some of these guys say, "We will find some overall solution that serves the public interest"?
Sharon White: Personally, I do. I am a slightly hesitant regulator because, as I mentioned before, when using the direct levers as a regulator, you do it with care and you do it with proportionality given the dynamism of the market. Personally, I think you can go a long way to improving the services for consumers using some of your convening power because we all have a shared interest, which is business wants to be able to serve more customers profitably, Government and parliamentarians want to close the digital divide, and we have statutory responsibilities that we take very seriously to serve not just the consumers who have access but citizens like the broader public who do not have such access.
Q39 Chair: We might be able to expect from you positive proposals to the industry as to how this problem could be addressed?
Sharon White: As a matter of practicality, if Government so chooses, we will be directly responsible for implementing the USO. We will be designating the provider. We will be running that programme once the Government has taken the requisite statutory instrument.
Chair: Setting the incentives, essentially?
Sharon White: Exactly.
Chair: Okay, that is interesting. Did you have a quick follow-up?
Careful Sharon, Ofcom are not the FCC or the NTIA. I would be all for a Regenerated Ofcom, rising to this big ask, but you currently don't have the people (irrespective of what they may tell you) or resources to achieve this. This is not a question of hiring additional lawyers. It would also require a bold and courageous step on your part that Ed was not prepared to contemplate. You also have to follow the rule of law as currently prescribed in the 2003 Act: unless, of course, you reinterpret the meaning and scope of the OPTIMISING SPRECTUM clause!!! Note also the definitions given.
Surprising is it not that two days on from the announcement of this Inquiry, Google proclaimed worldwide how they have reached an agreement with the Sri Lankan government to provide total 3G WiFi coverage from the Stratosphere from helium-filled balloons! Project Loon Indeed! Just who are the loonies here? MP's or the satellite industry. What are the lessons to be learned from Motorola and Iridium? It shall be interesting to note if the current committee understands why you have to roll-out 3G infrastructure before you can roll-out 4G here. It's an LTE thing!
This balloon aspect was also raised in the previous Select Committees Spectrum Report! What has the UK Government response? What was the recent key technology aspect, covered in a previous blog that has made this balloon technology possible? I should state that although the US FCC is light years ahead of Ofcom, nevertheless Google (Alphabet) has had to look abroad to access the total regulatory Test Bed blank canvas they craved.
Seriously thought, if this Inquiry wants to project the UK into being a world leader again, I believe that it just simply has to recommend that we Fix Fourier Analysis aka the issues I have brought to the reader's attention in previous Electronics World articles regarding fractional truncation aspects and other aspects I shall bring in future articles regarding aliasing. In the August edition of Electronics World the two articles: System Design exploration with OpenCL for FPGAs (Altera), and, Time to take the heat out of LEDS, using ARM A9 cores for Xilinx Zync System-on-a-Chip exhibits where the industry is still fixated.
Also they would need to consider what the timescale for turning around a technology super-tanker such as the FFT and OFDM would be. Could a banker appreciate why you have to adopt an evolutionary as well as disruptive top down revolutionary approach strategy here?
Perhaps the historical arguments behind these Fourier issues, even though Norman is on the Board of the Hay Festival and is well connected scientifically, would be beyond a banker's intellectual span of control or as Sharon White would put it a lack of "intellectual tractability". Who knows?
In essence this goes back to the nineties again and generally the crossover concerning the end of the Cold War technologies and the beginning of the Internet and the Peace Dividend. All the problems were known and work a round's had been instigated. But the latest crop of digital engineers have lost touch with these historical aspects: it is called retaining Institutional Memory. Once it's gone its gone!
Finally, I see that Warren East has arrived at the top table and has been joined by his replacement at ARM Simon Segar and also Steve Wadley (CEO QinetiQ), replacing Vittorio Colao and Eric Schmidt on the Prime Minister's Business Advisory Board for this Parliament!
What does this signify? Especially when you recall that Ian Livingston, the former CEO of BT Group has ceased to be a Minister of State. Why did he give up his BT post for a short stint from December 2013 till May 2015? Surely not just to acquire a title? So, what is Livingston now up too given that his fingerprints are all over last year's UK Government Spectrum Strategy?
It shall be interesting to see whether Norman has the nerve to pick on Livingston in this Inquiry? But as Norman has ambition to become PM I suspect that this shall be a step too far, too soon, as it could backfire with Livingston putting Norman in his place! Nevertheless we shall see how he does against Whittingdale. Incidentally Whittingdale has appointed Colette Bowe, the High Priestess of UK Consumerism to be on his board of advisors. Groupthink?
I shall finish here with this extended blog and leave the impact of other geopolitical events and significant further questions of loyalty issues that impinge on technology till another time. But I shall point out that once again I am indebted to Sue Owen, who pointed out in a previous hearing that Maria Miller asked for the Inequalities Portfolio to be added to her responsibilities at DCMS. I missed this one!
Anyway let's wait and see if the new OFCOM tool Mobile Coverage Checker works?
Real time Spectrum Monitoring, nope, but nice try?
Finally, I asked myself the following question. Would I be prepared to support the Select Committee being given more powers to scrutinise the Government with Norman in the Chair? My answer is yes, for Norman won't always be there!
15th August 2015
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