Thursday, 26 April 2012

Contention on the Thames

I've now given my oral evidence to the House of Lords Superfast Inquiry. They ended up changing the format - rather than simply cross-examining me, they arranged a double-header: me and Chris Holden, Chair of the Policy & Regulation Experts Group of the FTTH Council Europe. We obviously represent opposite ends of the spectrum of opinion on superfast.

The members of the Committee would ask a question, and Chris would say 'absolutely yes', and I would respond 'absolutely no'. I hope the members got at least some value out of the arguments we each supplied for our positions. All very civil though - more 'Contention on the Thames' than 'Rumble in the jungle'.

The debate ran for almost 2 1/2 hours, and covered a lot of ground. But if I were to try to boil it down, I think the critical question was whether or not you had faith that applications, currently unidentified, would come along that would use the full capabilities of superfast.

Chris acknowledged that today there were no applications with societal benefits that depended on superfast. However, he (and clearly some members of the Committee) felt they were bound to appear in due course. Personally, I think that human factors mean that it is unlikely that future applications will depend on superfast bandwidth, since we are unlikely to able process the amount of inbound information that represents - an issue I'll address in a coming post.

For those of you with serious time on your hands, here's the video of the session: