On the day that Virgin Media announces a massive investment in urban broadband infrastructure, it seemed like a good time to reflect a little on what’s going on more generally in broadband – or at least in my little bit of it this week. So the theme of this week has been stakeholder communications.
Cotswolds Broadband has just entered the mandatory “Alcatel period” after choosing their preferred bidder (don’t ask who – all will be revealed in good time) to help ensure that West Oxfordshire becomes the first District in the UK to have universal superfast broadband.
This is a truly innovative and exciting project with lessons for anyone engaged in rural broadband programmes – private, public or community led.
Cotswolds Broadband was an early RCBF applicant that stayed the course, and after leaving BDUK I became heavily involved in helping the project with things like State Aid, procurement and technical strategy. Its now entering the final weeks of a long gestation with a summer of building to look forward to.
This week I’ve also been giving advice to a long-suffering rural community who have been battling to get better broadband for as long as I can remember. This week that advice got them onto the Government’s list of approved suppliers for the Superfast Voucher scheme, and soon local businesses will be enjoying really fast broadband for the first time.
I’ve also been helping a regional operator to better position itself with the public sector to protect its existing investment and to become a more useful partner of local authorities as they consider how to deliver superfast broadband to the final 5%. This isn’t so much a re-engineering of their business to suit the public sector but a way of communicating what they do and how they do it so their unique strengths are meaningful to the public sector.
So the theme of this week seems to have been communications – that there is a genuine will from all sides to get broadband into the really hard areas but sometimes it just needs some help in translation.
Communities, regional operators and the public sector don’t always speak the same language and have different perspectives on the same problem which can lead to misunderstandings but where those barriers can be bridged the solutions are not just there, they can be truly exciting.