From time to time the basket of stuff used to calculate the official measures of inflation is updated to best reflect a typical spending pattern. The latest update saw something of a watershed moment. For the first time the Consumer Price Index basket contains items which depend on good, reliable broadband, so now inflation touches the cloud.

Out went DVD players – in came Netflix.

Why is this important?

The CPI is not a predictor of the future, it’s a descriptor of the now. The change says that high quality commercial streaming services are a common item in UK consumers’ shipping basket. That Netflix, Amazon Prime, Sky’s Now.TV, etc are mainstream and not a fringe activity of the gadget generation.

It speaks to those that were critical of the decision to make BBC3 an online-only channel. The reality is that streaming is normal and that the key audience for BBC3 is the demographic most at home online. The BBC didn’t get a little more white, make and middle class, as was claimed by critics; it simply reflected the shift in society that the CPI is now confirming.

This small change in the way we measure inflation in the UK should shout at policy makers and commentators with any doubts about the value society puts on broadband, that fast internet is a key infrastructure that underpins consumer spending today, now.

  1. cyberdoyle says:

    Spot on! Wonder when the government is going to realise the Emperor has no clothes and see through the ‘superfarce’? We need fibre, moral and optic, and to keep pace with the digital world we need to encourage innovation and altnets for some competition to stop the monopoly protecting its obsolete copper assets and keeping us in the digital dark ages. Cities would still be on dial up but for Virgin. Cameron and Vaizey may crow that we are faster than some bits of the EU, but being faster than other snails isn’t really anything to crow about. There are so called ‘third world’ countries laying fibre now. It is only old industrial revolution countries that think their fantastic phone networks can cope with the digital revolution. We know they can’t. It was great while it lasted, but those clothes are now in the rag bag and the emperor is naked. We now have to wait for civil servants to study a bit of physics instead of believing telco hype. How the eejits can think ‘fibre broadband’ can come down a copper line for several miles is beyond belief. Homes ‘passed’ means homes passed by. Take up is poor because ‘superfarce’ is only close to those who already have connections. Those on long lines either rural or urban can’t benefit from FTTC. And won’t ever. Infinity. It has a good name.

    • Adrian Wooster says:

      Chris,
      The key thing is that its formal confirmation that people are streaming media as a daily activity now. It sits alongside buying bread as a very ordinary thing to do. Its importance is that it marginalises those that see the Internet as the domain of young people or technophiles.

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