Labour Broadband Manifesto – *Warning contains vision extracts*

Labour Communications Manifesto.

Our vision will be to create, by 2012, a new, high speed, open access, next generation telecoms network, designed and managed to support competing service operators that will use a variety of wireless and fixed wire “local loop� technologies, depending on local settlement patterns and geographic conditions, to deliver triple-play (TV, Internet and voice) services to every home in Ireland that wants them.

They’re starting well, this opening comment covers exactly what is needed. A hybrid of many different technologies.

Establish an ambitious new government vision of how Irish broadband connectivity should develop and the wider economic and social benefits intensified broadband development will facilitate. Renewed objectives, vigorously approached targets and a commitment to delivering on these targets will be a policy priority.

I don’t like documents that talk up what they might do as “ambitious”. That’s the job of an outsider. So far, talking themselves up.

Set-up a specific broadband task force headed by an e-envoy to concentrate resources and responsibility in a central location to drive an intensified rollout. The ICT industry will be encouraged to lead this development.

Taskforces can be good. A broadband Minister or Czar is what is needed. Someone who is just empolyed to sort broadband. Right now too many different groups appear to be responsible for different bits.

Within six months of coming to power, we will tender for the upgrade and “broadband enabling� of telephone exchanges in those, mainly rural, areas where it has been uneconomic for the private sector to do so.

Noel beat you to it there.

Introduce serious regulatory reform to ensure that the broadband sector is regulated much more effectively. The communications regulator ComReg will have the ability to impose much greater financial penalties on telecom operators. Operational changes will also be examined to allow ComReg to operate without the current intensely prohibitive legal restrictions and to strengthen its anticompetitive mandate.

I would still want ComReg erased from the telco landscape but at least they are recognising the massive problems with the current ComReg but again, Dempsey has addressed the fines issue as of yesterday. I like the sound of “operational” changes but would rather “remove the people in there who think it is their job to maintain the status quo”.

To expedite competition blockages and remove obstruction, a separate High Court division of regulation will be established.

There wouldn’t be enough work at all for this. The big issue is the current ECAP (court-like appeals panel for ComReg decisions) is slow and appeals can still end up in a Court. Wishful thinking for this but perhaps just have a regulation expert in the companies divison of the Courts.

Introduce co-competition powers for ComReg with the Competition Authority

Let the Comp Auth do the work of ComReg maybe?

We will strengthen the hand of the regulator, and seek a settlement with Eircom to create an operationally separate network division to address the absolutely crucial problem of access to the local loop. This should ensure greater access for other broadband operators to provide services, and a greater variety and less expensive range of broadband products will be on offer for Irish consumers and businesses.

No no no no. ComReg no matter what powers will do nothing with them. They fear court cases and as has been said to me in private a good few times, they don’t want any additional hassle from eircom. They will always take the path of least resistance which so far has meant consumers are scrawed over. Also, how exactly can you make a private company split itself? I’d like to see any Irish body manage to do that. Maybe it can work in the UK, not sure about here.

Promote innovative measures for the delivery of a range of platforms for delivering different broadband technologies. These would include a widespread designation of ‘hot spots’ for wireless transmission, and making entire urban areas ‘hot zones’ that are entirely wireless broadband enabled.

Make ComReg allocate spectrum properly. This is weak. Hot spots and hot zones? Someone’s been at the jargon cheat sheet again.

Incorporate local government institutions including partnerships, county leaders and county development boards in broadband rollout

This needs to be clearer but this makes sense. Make all the bloody councils and so forth offer their roof spaces or land on hills for masts for wireless.

Create a Universal Service Obligation (USO) for broadband. Accessibility to broadband networks will assume the same character as the present expectation of universal access to the postal service or telephone network. The development of mechanisms for ensuring that a broadband USO is in place creates considerable potential for ensuring a widespread and universally accessible broadband network.

Vision! The EU already mentioned this a year or two ago but thought it too soon to build it into EU law but said there was nothing stopping individual countries from doing it.

Instigate a national information technology education programme in order to provide the essential knowledge and training for using the critical ICT infrastructure of a modern economy. Although some schools provide such education, it is essential that all children regardless of the school they attend have access to a proper IT education so as to equip them with the knowledge and practical experience to participate fully in society

Connect every school to the MANs where possible. Schools should have better broadband than homes. This is more an education issue but it is nice to see it addressed by some party.

Ensure access to laptops for secondary school children. Broadband connectivity needs to have a practical application. An objective of a national ICT policy should be the provision of all secondary school students with laptops so
the relevant knowledge of and necessary skills for advanced technology can be experienced within the classroom.All methods of practically facilitating such a scheme, such as a partnership agreement with the IT industry, should be examined to ensure the widespread provision of laptops at second level.

One laptop per child? IBEC are trying that crap aren’t they? If they get involved expect each laptop to have to use a Microsoft operating system and connect using eircom.

Ok, overall this communications manifesto makes more sense and contains more forward thinking than all the rest I’ve gone through. Whoever put this together almost knew all the current issues and how to tackle them. More needs to be done in regards to ComReg but I like the Universal Broadband requirement. The big question is, can Labour implement them?

5 Responses to “Labour Broadband Manifesto – *Warning contains vision extracts*”

  1. […] If Broadband access or IT Communications are a major issue for you then Damien Mulley has a rundown on all the political parties manifestos and breaks down the jargon to reveal who’s offering the best promises or solutions in the upcoming election. He reckons that Labour offers the manifesto that makes the most sense and is the most forward-thinking. So if Broadband access or quality or rates are affecting you then a vote for Labour appears to be the most logical option. […]

  2. Daithí says:

    Two brief points:

    a) there’s more than enough work for a regulation ‘division’ (which would essentially be a judge or two, similar to the commercial court). The idea is that the judge becomes very familiar with administrative law (and in the minds of some of the proponents, gets good at dealing with cases quickly!)

    Your average regulatory appeal can take a month or so (Meteor took 70something days!), and there are a lot of new regulators. This has been tossed around for a while, and it normally comes down to theory (whether regulatory judges would be better or worse than a random member of the High Court). I haven’t made up my mind yet.

    b) There’s no guarantee that Ireland could unilaterally introduce USO broadband. In fact, given the impact of EU law and the WTO Basic Telecommunications Agreement, it would be quite a fight. Though, Reding said yesterday that she was thinking about changing EU law to make it possible.

    Great overview, though. (I didn’t have any role in the document).

  3. Stephen Crowley says:

    still laughing at the idea of a laptop for every child.

    i like the idea of every school child having adequate access to a computer with a broadband connection. but its a very silly notion imo. the hassles of monitoring each child in a classroom on broadband is ridiculous. you’re just asking for trouble.

    also teachers with adequate training for these computers has never been mentioned.

    will they encourage junior certs to take a course in ECDL? or will they lie in a corner unused until they realise. who’s going to show the kids how to use these things. by which time they will have halved in value.

    I think the idea of it is silly and stupid. and definitely not well thought out. (just think of the expenses especially at the rate computers are changing)

    as for the rest of it. At least it makes some sense.

  4. Damien says:

    Green party are next Stephen. 🙂

  5. […] The Labour Party seem to have been listening to Jim Tallon, for they’ve dropped the imperialist’s foreign tongue and gone for an all-irish political broadcast, while Eric Byrne’s note on the Labour party’s decison to hold off on any private hospitals on public ground has already been covered by Cian today. Labour’s Dominic Hannigan’s blog continues in its chatty, breezy style, while Damien Mulley has a piece on Labour’s communication manifesto. […]