This debate was given extra impetus with the Digital Britain report proposal for a universal broadband service at 2Mbps -
To ensure all can access and benefit from the network of today, we confirm our intention to deliver the Universal Service Broadband Commitment at 2Mbps by 2012.
My test for broadband speed is a functional one of whether it meets the reasonable expectations of users for delivering the typical basket of internet services at any particular time.
Today, that means for a UK user that surfing media-rich websites, gaming, and using video services like YouTube, iPlayer and 4OD should all be pleasurable experiences. Over time, the demands will change as more bandwidth-heavy services become available.
The ability of a connection to deliver an acceptable service level depends on a number of factors beyond raw download speed such as latency, DNS lookup, caching etc but speed does still remain an important component.
I realise what a difference speed makes everytime I am away from my home where I have a 14Mbps ADSL2+ connection.
I have just logged on to someone else’s service and thought that it wasn’t working properly as it seemed to take forever to access the normal websites I use like BBC News.
So I ran tested the connection on SpeedTest.net and found that it is running at 4.5Mbps, which happens to be around the typical level for UK ADSL connections according to a recent Ofcom report.
So, this connection is not ‘slow’ but ‘typical’ for the UK market today but still seems slow to me as my level of expectation has been raised by my usual experience.
It seems that speed does now matter to me and there’s probably no going back.]]>
As we hear of more MPs wanting to stand down from Gordon Brown’s Ministerial team the term seems apt for those who will be offered the chance to replace them.]]>
The process of deciding law in the European Parliament is much more complex than in Westminster. In Westminster virtually every word of our laws is drafted by the Government with the odd amendment passed in the House of Lords where there is no Government majority. The scrutiny process can throw up errors and occasionally creates such controversy that a proposal is delayed or abandoned. But it does not generally offer individual MPs the opportunity to make substantial changes to the law.
In the European Parliament, individual MEPs with key places on legislative committees have real power in the drafting of laws. They are then able to work with their political groups to swing support behind their proposals. The key dynamic is usually between the three big political groups – the socialists, the centre-right and the liberals – as two of these coming together can command a Parliamentary majority.
Yet, in the European elections on Thursday, the UK is likely to end up with fewer MEPs in these three main groups and therefore will potentially have less direct influence over legislation. The Conservatives have made their case for pulling out of the main centre-right group and claim they can still work effectively with their old allies from a new grouping. That remains to be seen.
If some of the polls are correct then UKIP will also have a good election. Their position is overtly on the fringes of the legislative process as they don’t believe in the EU institutions at all. They therefore cannot be relied upon to take an active role in debating the detail of legislative proposals that, as long as the EU does exist, will have a major impact on British citizens. Meanwhile the European Parliament has no real role in deciding issues such as EU treaties which belong to the UK and other national governments.
Many people in the UK are strongly hostile to the EU hence the appeal of UKIP. But we have somehow contrived for this to be expressed in the wrong elections. It would make far more sense for UKIP to be strong in the Westminster Parliament where they would have the power to debate and decide on their core issue of the UK’s position in the EU. It is of far less value for them to be in the European Parliament where, as long as we remain members, the UK’s interests can be better served by having MEPs who can advance our interests in the main political groups.
Whatever one’s views on long-term EU membership, the tests for a good UK MEP should be whether they play a full role in the current institutions, how well they can they work with MEPs from other countries, and are they a competent channel for representing the UK’s interests in this important law-making body.]]>
This brought together a large group of public sector officials and industry representatives. I gave a talk on the work of the Power of Information Taskforce between our sponsoring Minister, Tom Watson MP, and a great public sector innovator, Steph Gray.
The Intellect site only offers copies of slides to registered delegates, so if you weren’t a delegate and want to see what I said, I have posted a PDF copy of my Tower 09 Presentation here as well.
This may not make too much sense without the verbal commentary but you can get more written colour on the Power of Information blog.]]>
This has the obvious merit of being a public demonstration of David Cameron’s resolve to deal firmly with Conservative MPs whose conduct has so angered voters.
The happy side-effect from his point-of-view is that this is leading to a clear-out of many ‘bed-blockers’ – those MPs who have been in Parliament so many years that their positions are unassailable but who are of little use to a future Cameron-led government.
And given that we are now close to a general election and the current state of morale in the various local parties, we can expect party high command to have a pretty strong hand in any selection procedures for successors.
So out with a bunch of Knights of the Shires and in with a gaggle of modernisers who owe their seats to the leadership. That’s a pretty good result for those expecting to have to manage the next Parliament.]]>