Presenting to the North Wales branch of the CLA, in Llanwyrst, Conwyn, Broadway Partners gave the case for TV WhiteSpace as a powerful technology for delivering high quality broadband to 100% of households and businesses across the UK – even in the most remote parts of Wales.
The timing was good, in that the event took place the day after the publication of the UK Government’s Digital Strategy paper, in which Secretary of State Karen Bradley set out her belief that “every individual should have access to high quality internet wherever they live, work, travel or learn”.
And we were in good company, speaking after representatives from the Welsh Government and BT, and we were able in particular to reference the achievements of Arran Broadband – so far as we know, the first commercial deployment of TV WhiteSpace in Europe.
BT’s presentation understandably highlighted the engineering challenges that the company has to overcome in order to push broadband further into rural areas, citing its CEO Gavin Patterson’s estimate of a £29bn cost to deliver fibre-to-the-remise (FTTP) to the whole country.
One particularly frustrated farmer, asked why this money couldn’t be raised, if the country was prepared to invest more than £40bn in HS2.
Our take on this is simple: it is not about money. According to the latest Bank of England statistics, £276bn, or almost ten times the estimated cost of ‘fibre-for-all’, is currently being held in non-interest bearing bank deposits across the UK (and an even more massive £1.6 trillion is being held in all bank deposits, the majority earning a tiny return). So affordability is not the issue: there’s a ton of cash sloshing around the system, looking for a decent return.
In our view, it is all about do-ability. BT’s engineering challenges really are immense: having done the easy stuff, BT is now left with the difficult stuff. Which is where we, and TV WhiteSpace, like to play – extending the reach of BT’s fibre upgrade, quickly, affordably and with less environmental impact. If we can do it on Arran, we and others like us can do it everywhere.