Thursday, April 26, 2007

We are all getting connected

I am sitting in our Value Chain office in Bangalore and I am greeted by today’s headlines in ‘The Economic Times’ of India – ‘Broadband to go free in 2 years’. The Indian government proposes to offer all citizens free, high speed broadband by 2009 through their state owned service providers. It follows a Telecom paper reported by Rightcom yesterday that gives the latest figures on estimated penetration of broadband in the published by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) on their countries. Subscriptions have increased by 26% to 197m in December 2006 from 157m a year earlier and report also states that broadband subscriptions per 100 inhabitants grew to 16.9 from 13.5 during the same period a year ago. The report lists Denmark as the most switched on country with 31.9 broadband subscriptions per 100 inhabitants, followed by the Netherlands with 31.8, Iceland with 29.7, Korea with 29.1 and Switzerland with 28.5.

The impact is obvious- lots more people sitting in-front of screens surfing the net. But the real impact is whole communities and populations being empowered and a potential further power shift in the digital world.

However its not just those homes that are getting wired to play. The Heathrow Express that runs between London Paddington and Heathrow airport is now offering wireless internet access to passengers. The city of London has just announced a large WiFi area and the spread of WiFi is only just starting. In the US many cities are now adopting wireless broadband free services to residents. The Heathrow trackside mobile wireless network was installed by UK-based Nomad Digital and delivered by T-Mobile. The will deliver a broadband connection speed of 2Mbps throughout the 30 minute journey and cost 75p for 10 minutes or £5 for an hour's connection. Besides the Heathrow Express, the connection card can be used at more than 400 T-Mobile HotSpot locations within London.

This pervasive spread of high bandwidth connectivity will impact what content can be delivered, how its used and makes one wonder whether you will ever be able to switch off? Importantly the economics of access are shifting and the famous ‘rip off’ Britain tag will have to go if we are to compete on the global stage