The DCMS "Olympics First" Broadband Strategy: the pieces fall into place

“Delay rural broadband to prevent distraction until BT, the Mobile Operators and their contractors have completed the upgrades and testing necessary to serve the games venues and prevent communications melt down in urban areas during the August 2012″.

* [See P.S. at end - this quote is fiction - any resemblance to reality is concidence] *

If that was indeed the strategy, it was Gallic in its logic and Germanic in the ruthlessness with which it has been applied.  If not, then the normal Whitehall mix of SNAFU and improvised duplicity has been remarkably fortuitous. I am,  for once, more than half inclined to believe in conspiracy rather than cock-up.

Whether or not what has happened was the result of strategic discussions, DCMS Ministers have indeed been far more concerned over the Olympics than over broadband.

More-over it appears to be a strategy that has worked.

On Monday I attended an excellent briefing organised by CMA on preparations for the Olympics. I realised for the first time the sheer scale of investment that BT and the Mobile Operators have made to create and test a nationwide  infrastructure for the communications needs of the games themselves and, at the same time, bring forward the upgrading of most of their urban networks so that these can support the dramatic peaks of fixed and mobile traffic that can be expected, albeit BBC iPlayer and some other streaming services may collapse because not all ISPs have contracted the backhaul they will need and that should relieve some pressure.

Wapping may be cut-off by the Transport for London road closures (and remain stuck with 8 megs) but West Norwood (and many others) are due to get Infinity by the end of June.   More-over,  once the games are over,  the dedicated infrastructures installed for the games venues can be made available to the rest of us and the BT engineering teams will be free to cable up those areas which will have been waiting patiently, including for the result of procurements under the BDUK framework.

Of course there will be a few malcontents, like those in parts of the London commuter belt who are being told to work from home during Olympics and have discovered that their current narrowband services will stop dead under overload, the satellite links are now fully booked and they have been denied the opportunity to have fixed wireless links instead. Then there are those complain that the whole of the BDUK imposed delay has been illegal state aid in support
of the incumbent.

But the Games will have been a success and we will all have been able to watch them, on TV if necessary – and that is what really counts – isn’t it?

* I have been asked to attribute this quote. For the avoidance of doubt – it is (to the best of my knowledge) fiction. It is not a leak from the script of the next episode of 2012 or the rumoured future re-run of “Yes Minister”, nor is it from any internal document that may emerge in the National Archives release of Cabinet Office papers in 2030 *

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