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Superfast Broadband a Reality for the UK

360 IT : 27 May, 2010  (Technical Article)
A poll by 360 IT suggests that UK IT professionals are confident in the ability to provide 100Mbps broadband infrastructure in the country
Two thirds of IT professionals think that the UK can build a near-universal 100Mbps broadband infrastructure in the lifetime of this Parliament without significant public subsidy. [Poll of 347 IT managers carried out in May 2010].

As the UK's new coalition government gets down to the task of managing the country from Westminster, the editor of the 360°IT Blog has detailed how he thinks the Government is likely to macro-manage the UK's IT industry.

According to Jim Mortleman - who is also an independent writer and commentator on business and social technology issues - the coalition's plans for the "rapid roll-out of superfast broadband across the UK" strengthens the hand of those in Government who want to see parts of the Digital Economy Act repealed - including Nick Clegg. The reason, says Jim, is that the network will have to be funded in large part by private investment, and leaders of key telecoms and Internet businesses like BT have publicly expressed serious misgivings with the Act and the heavy compliance costs it implies for them.

Jim adds he would be surprised if the Act were not significantly reworked. This, he notes, would be good news for the UK's IT industry, since getting the legal framework for digital business right - in a balanced way - is going to be critical for our future success.

Jim also predicts UK PLC should expect more incentives designed to drive energy efficiency and sustainability, probably implemented via the tax regime rather than heavy-handed regulation. 'IT clearly has a big contribution to make here, as recent 360 IT Event blogs from Quocirca's Clive Longbottom illustrate,' he said.

Jim adds there is also likely to be a significant new compliance burden placed on financial-sector IT as a result of changes to banking regulation.

But it's the public sector that should brace itself for the biggest changes, says Jim. The Government has already signalled its intention to cap projects at £100 million and encourage a wider range of smaller, more nimble projects and suppliers, including open source technologies.

'Public-sector IT procurement and supplier management processes will have to change significantly as a result, as will project portfolio management. Cost pressures are also likely to result in greater use of cloud-based systems and services,' he predicts.

Against this backdrop, the 360° IT Blog editor says public-sector IT departments have a lot of work ahead to create an open data landscape for Government IT to move forward.

'The real question, particularly in the public sector, is whether IT departments are going to be left with sufficient resources after the budget cuts to implement the necessary changes effectively,' he writes.

'Just like the coalition itself, it's going to be a fine balancing act,' he adds.
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