Tories Promise a Broadband Champion where Labours Fail to

It is highly appreciable that the Conservative Party has, along with the announcement of prioritizing a review of the fibre network business tax if it wins the elections, also staged a competitive person that gives the hope to wield with a bit of expertise, the telecommunications portfolio, at the instance of his party coming to power. However, the man currently adorns the office of the Shadow Arts minister, as none but the shadow minister.

In a briefing thrown at an international meeting on dark fibre, the UK Shadow minister for arts, Ed Vaizey has taken the battle to the Labour camps by stating that Labour’s business rates levy policy has resulted in inflicting great damage to the telecoms in the United Kingdom. Later, in another briefing given to Computer Weekly, Vaizey hit out at the business rates regime saying that it was a potential disincentive to the rollout of a competitive and superfast next generation broadband network, since it dated from 1601.

His (Conservative Party’s?) political view is profound and vivid in his lament that hardly any body has come forward to shoulder the responsibility for the rates with authority, even as the responsibility for the business rates was being shared between one too many departments of the government, including the business, skills and innovation department that held the charge of the communications aspect, the DCLG (the communities and local government department) that held the charge of the rating policy, the treasury that is headed by the minister who also takes care of the Digital Britain implementation, and the VOA (valuation office agency).

Vaizey’s remark that they saw the policy being shared amongst a bewildering range of quangos and government bodies, and the claim that came alongside that this was something that he intended to fix, sows the seed of speculation that he might be the man that the Conservatives would assign with the telecommunications department once it gains power. Moreover this one view of the shadow arts minister, obviously overshadows the commitment of the de jury Digital Britain minister as well as that of the de facto minister that are seen going through the motions at present.

Vaizey scores further over his counterpart (s) by playing down the proposals by the Valuation Office Agency to levy the WiMAX and WiFi networks that the proposal was still damaging even though the VOA had claimed that it was simply an extension of the policy that exists. Besides, he also revealed that the Conservative Party was against the government’s plan to slap a 50 pence a month levy on the UK fixed telephone lines. He has cited the view put forward by the TalkTalk chief Charles Dunstone – that the scheme of the government was likely to impede the superfast next generation fibre broadband rollout in the rural UK, for the private investors might anticipate the availability of public funds – to flay the Labour 50p monthly broadband tax plans.

Vaizey also made clear the stance of the Tories that they were looking ahead to an investment scheme that participated every one, and not just BT. He said that this meant that the network of BT should be opened up for other broadband providers as well to run fibre. His further proposals that they would not be tied down to a particular broadband technology, and the most ideal way to boost investment was to encourage competition in the liberal markets, accentuates one aspect. That encouragement of competition would be the prime Tory line.

The shadow arts minister further emphasizes this view by stating that though the fact that the investment in the sector of telecommunications was driven by competition, was also clear that a crucial part in market outcomes was played by the policy and regulation of the government. This is clearly a warning to none but the prominent fixed-line broadband provider operating in the United Kingdom, BT.

Vaizey’s insight on the technology part is also remarkable, perhaps a yard ahead of that of his rivals, Stephen Timms and Lord Mandelson. He acknowledges the significance of the availability of dark fibre in the rollout of the next generation broadband rollout in the UK in the competitive market of his dreams. The essence of the part is in his following statement that they wanted the telecoms regulator Ofcom to perform a complete review of how could dark fibre be delivered to the UK broadband market.

Vaizey’s view that dark fibre backhaul might be of much use in supporting the LLU (local loop unbundling) as the latter could sustain profound network competition in the next generation broadband internet access provision, along with another that for its realization, innovative solutions such as a direct access to digital subscriber loop (DSL) card management or the lesser access to cabinet shelves or racks would be required, sounds quiet reasonable as well as supportive to the main cause.

One part that Vaizey seemed to be conveniently overlooking was the universal broadband speed, which has been a concern for most of the broadband consumers in the country at present. This was also the pitfall that Lord Carter had recognized, but lately and rudely neglected by Mandelson. Nonetheless, the promising show by Vaizey certainly provides food for thought for the broadband experts of the country as well as dreams for the UK ISPs (except BT) and the end users. The sole question that remains unanswered is what would be the role of Jeremy Hunt there?

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