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UK govt to speed NGN rollout by sidestepping planning rules

11 сентября 2012

The U.K. government plans to exempt broadband equipment from local planning rules in a bid to accelerate the deployment of next-generation network infrastructure.

Under the new regime, the Department for Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) said street cabinets can be installed without requiring prior approval; overhead cables can be rolled out in any area without planning permission; and equipment can be located under or above private land without "long-running negotiations". The government said it also aims to streamline the planning process for rolling out mobile infrastructure.

The rule changes were announced late last week by new culture secretary Maria Miller, who replaced Jeremy Hunt in a government reshuffle earlier this month.

"Superfast broadband is vital to secure our country's future – to kick start economic growth and create jobs," she said. "The government means business and we are determined to cut through the bureaucracy that is holding us back."

Unsurprisingly the DCMS had no trouble finding telcos and industry bodies willing to publicly welcome Miller's proposals.

"Efforts to cut through the red tape that hampers the rollout of better broadband are welcome but overdue," said Virgin Media. "We're fully behind the government's ambition to ensure Britain has the best broadband in Europe and steps like this will help support Virgin Media's ongoing private investment."

Industry body Intellect and digital champion Martha Lane Fox shared similar sentiments about the importance of providing consumers and businesses with access to better broadband services.

"Making it easier to deploy broadband, particularly in more rural areas, will help to make sure no one is left behind," said Lane Fox.

However, not everyone is happy with Miller's plan.

"You cannot take away the rights of people to have a say on six-foot high humming junction boxes outside their windows and gardens, or poles and wires festooning their streets," said Mike Jones, chairman of the Local Government Association (LGA)'s environment and housing board. "Residents expect councils to protect their homes and make neighbourhoods nice places to live, and planning regulations exist to do just that.

"Councils are as committed as government to improving Internet services for residents and business to help drive forward growth in their areas," he insisted. "However, the answer isn't riding roughshod over planning protections and it's vital government doesn't lose sight of the bigger picture in a race for short-term gain."

It is envisioned that private companies will be able to provide superfast broadband – defined by regulator Ofcom as a service with a headline connection speed of at least 24 Mbps – to two thirds of U.K. premises. For the third of households and companies located in areas where there is no strong business case for infrastructure investment, government body Broadband Delivery UK (BDUK) has pledged £530 million to fund network deployment. It has also allocated £150 million to create 10 'super-connected' cities with up to 100-Mbps fixed-line connectivity, and high-speed mobile broadband coverage.

The aim is to give 90% of the country access to superfast broadband by 2015.

However, the plan to distribute public funds to infrastructure providers has not gone well so far.

Concerns have been raised that the tender process is not competitive enough after just two companies – BT and Fujitsu – were selected from an original list of nine for BDUK's framework agreement. The document is distributed to councils and forms the basis for procuring infrastructure deployment in rural areas.

To make matters worse, Fujitsu has withdrawn from two tenders, one in Cumbria in the north of England and one covering swathes of Wales, on concerns that were it to build a network, it would struggle to attract Internet service providers (ISPs) to lease capacity.


Источник: Total Telecom

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