Connected Research

Union policy research in the 21st century

BIS launches NextGen Fund consultation

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The Department for Business, Innovation and Skills has launched a consultation on the Next Generation Fund as announced in the Pre-Budget Report (press release (and see reaction to the reference to ‘the market’ delivering access speeds of 50 Mbps to half the country here); full consultation). The consultation is intended to remain open until 1 April.

The Fund, which will be drawn up on the basis of a 50p/month levy on phone lines, is intended to provide high-speed broadband services in areas where ‘the market’ won’t deliver on the basis of these being, for want of a better word, ‘uneconomic’. (It was originally, in the final Digital Britain report, referred to as the ‘final third’ fund although, in view of current levels of roll-out plans, it seems more appropriate to refer to it as a ‘final three-fifths‘ fund.) This is in line with the Digital Britain aim of having 90% of the UK connected to high-speed broadband networks by 2017.

The consultation addresses a series of issues around how the Fund will operate, with the aim of providing

The basis for Government to take policy decisions, which in conjunction with the procurement team, will provide a framework for delivery of the Next Generation Fund.

Interesting reference here to the procurement ‘team’. This was referred to in Digital Britain as the Network Design and Procurement Group, later the Network Design and Procurement Company, and was due to be established under a CEO appointed in October 2009. This was then put back to ‘the new year‘ and it is thus somewhat odd to see this apparently more minor ‘team’ referred to instead. It would seem either that there has been some difficulties filling the posts, or else that the establishment of another quango in an immediate pre-election period was not perhaps the wisest move. The ‘team’ is not itself the subject of the consultation, but the latter will provide a basis for the next steps to be taken by this body.

The Connect sector of Prospect will be examining the document in detail and responding to its frequently quite involved consultation questions in due course.

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Written by Calvin

08/01/2010 at 4:33 pm

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