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Entanet on the DE Bill - The Devil's in the detail

25 May 2016

Entanet has praised the UK government’s intentions to provide Internet parity for everyone, protect people from the sleazier side of the web, and encourage competition announced in last week’s Queen’s Speech. But the company also warns that the devil is in the detail and that it will not be easy to deliver on the objectives that are to be set out in the Digital Economy Bill.

In the latest posting to its opinion website, the company’s Product Manager, Paul Heritage-Redpath, says that the announcement of plans to provide speeds of at least up to 10Mbps to everyone, protect innocent users (and children especially) from pornography, and increase consumer choice and competition, are all commendable.

But he also points to a lack of detailed thinking in the plans and says none of these goals will be easy to achieve.

On the setting of a Universal Service Obligation (USO) target for broadband speeds of 10Mbps, Heritage-Redpath states: “The truth is that if you live 3km away from a cabinet/exchange, you’re unlikely to achieve a near 10Mbps speed. But with cabinets costing tens of thousands of pounds we can’t see anyone [the consumer, the government, the regulator, or BT] paying up.”

He also asks how the government can expect to verify the age of users to prevent young people accessing pornography on the web. “The technical practicalities appear to have been forgotten. Exactly how this will be achieved without the ability to teleport through the screen of a user’s device to confirm their age and identity is, frankly, anyone’s guess.”

On the matter of improving access to land so that new cables and infrastructure can be laid, he expresses serious doubts over whether landowners will “simply roll over and play nicely”.

Heritage-Redpath also slams the proposal that communications providers should pay compensation to users automatically when things go wrong with their broadband service as “a terrible idea and open to abuse, given that CPs have no direct control over the quality of Openreach’s infrastructure.”

There is also a lack of detail on a number of other issues, he notes, including plans to introduce new measures that will make it easier for consumers to switch providers, new powers for Ofcom to force CPs to release data, and a possible extension of the Investigatory Powers Bill (IPB).

You can read the article in full here: The Queen’s Speech – connectivity comes front & centre