Adrian Wooster’s Blog

Adrian Wooster is a widely respected consultant working with INCA on the development of technical and business process standards to support the emerging patchwork quilt. We have syndicated the content of his influential and widely read blog for the convenience of INCA members and site visitors. You can view Adrian's site at http://wooster.org.uk

12p or a fifth-of-percent

The Stakeholder Group’s (BSG) Commercial, Operational and Technical Standards (COTS) working group has written to BDUK recommending that they find their way to supporting the development of framework to ensure retail service competition on next generation networks.

This comes about two years after the team at BIS declined a proposal to do exactly that, feeling that it should be formed and funded by the industry at the recommendation of the BSG which, in turn, lead to the formation of the COTS process.

Funding the Final Third workshop – 9th May

The UK ’s rural initiative, investing more than £500m of public funds, places a significant burden of responsibility on Councils and the new LEPs:

  • To demonstrate the economic viability of rural broadband, often against conventional wisdom;
  • To develop, present and execute a comprehensive, county-wide broadband strategy;
  • And to present plans that are sustainable, with assured access to ongoing private funding.

These assessment criteria represent significant challenges for Councils to match.

Broadband doesn’t need high population density or PCs?

I just re-watched the brilliant BBC programme “The Joy of Stats”, where the infectious Hans Rosling’s encourages you to explore the world of statistics. I’ve been hunting for a long time in search of a better way to present the mass of data on  and was left somewhat envious of the way Hans presents his world facts.

Good !! He has a website from which you can download the tool he uses with such zeal, and you can create your own animated graphs on an whole range of global datasets from poverty and health to broadband and the – yep, he has included just what I’ve been looking for!

Why waiting to bid for BDUK may be the smartest option . . .

. . . at least until after the 9th of May.

This advice is probably too late for some local authorities so apologies for the unhelpful suggestion to those who’ve sweat blood in the last few weeks and put together a submission to BDUK already. But if there’s any doubt in your mind that your bid isn’t quite what it might be then take my advice, submit an Expression of Interest and delay.

made it quite clear at Peter Aldous’ Suffolk event last week – the money doesn’t run out next week – there is funding available for many more bids after next week’s closing date – and its far more important to get it right than get it early.

Why delay? In recent weeks there have been a number of significant announcements and movements in the broadband landscape that need to be carefully considered, and which could have a fundamental impact on your bid.

A framework for localism – from pump to home

Local authorities across the UK are readying themselves for the BDUK process – some are in the process of issuing tenders, others preparing their bids to BDUK for the next wave, while others are doing the hard graft of getting their local plans ready for later in the year.

What’s happening to the Big Society in broadband?

For many who’ve been campaigning to get better into the UK’s rural areas the ’s  policy agenda is a very welcome opportunity to really make a difference, to fix this problem once and for all.

With ’s programme under way and DEFRA announcing £20m to support rural broadband things seem to be moving in the right direction – but there are some major challenges ahead.

EU State Aid Approvals and fibre

Leading from some conversations over the last couple of weeks I thought I’d have a look to see if there exists any link between EU State Aid rulings for projects and that countries ranking in the league tables. At the moment, this is little more than a work in progress while I try to understand why some countries make a big deal out of EU State Aid rules (UK tends to top the list) and how some countries seem able to make progress more efficiently  - please drop me a line if you can help!

This is what the data so far seems to suggest:

The more fibre you have, the less your feels the need to refer decisions to the EU for approval

Chicken or Egg – Broadband or PSN?

As Local Authorities around the country are beginning to scramble to prepare for the BD-UK competitions, a question seems to be hanging over everyone and is largely going unanswered: Which comes first – the PSN or the broadband?

A good number of local authorities are rolling their internal networking needs into the wider infrastructure project, which is tending to result in a PSN process leading the strategy and a fairly traditional procurement exercise ensuing. But its not clear to me that this is always the best approach.

Certainly the public sector is normally one of the biggest customers of broadband in any geography, and knowing that there is a willing anchor tenant certainly improves the business case but using the PSN as the basis for the procurement isn’t quite the same thing – the combined weight of the SME and consumer markets are considerably larger than the combined weight of the public sector, so procuring the network in the image of the smaller stakeholder doesn’t seem to make sense.

Ken Olsen

I’ve often felt that the history of computing would make a fascinating topic for the TV – the impact of its short life so far can’t be underestimated yet many people have no idea who the pioneers are who made it all possible. One of two name have entered public consciousness, Bill Gates and Steve Jobs, but so many remain the heroes of the geeks alone.

One of those heroes was Ken Olsen who died this week; the founder of DEC, a company whose legacy is far greater than their commercial success.

The PDP mini-computers he created were the tools of choice for innovators in the 60′s and 70′s. Unix and C were created on PDPs, and the ARPAnet and internet formed around them; you can still see them in action at the Bletchley Park Museum of Computing running air traffic control and, if you’re lucky, chess on a line-printer terminal.

Homework: read the ALA documents

I received an email this week from the NICC’s Ethernet Working Group with links to the finalised Active Line Access (ALA) document. This is very exciting news for all sorts of reasons.

ALA is the industry agreed model designed specifically for the next generation broadband world, and at any number of levels it fundamentally changes the way broadband will work in the the UK.

The documents are not an easy read (this is, after all, a set of engineering standards designed to be implemented by engineers) but its impact should be understood by everyone who has an opinion on the future shape of broadband, the internet or net neutrality.

I attended some of the early meetings as an observer and because, like any opinionated techy, I wanted to help shape some of the early aspects. The Ethernet Working Group under Chris Gallon’s chairmanship is something of a technical dream team – they are the deeply technical architects and engineers from the major vendors and key network operators tasked with working out how their organisations can interoperate.