I was intrigued to learn from a DTI press release (15th March) that their "Nine regional [broadband] aggregation bodies and one national [broadband] aggregation body" will now be known as "Adits". It was reassuring to have E-commerce Minister Stephen Timms confirm his belief that:
Angry Phone Man - logo of my broadband campaign
"Pooling public sector broadband purchasing also ensures that more rural areas, previously seen as too remote or uneconomic for the infrastructure, will now have access to the social and business benefits of broadband technology."
but I remain to be convinced. When this whole scheme was announced (back in July 2003) I expressed scepticism about the ultimate value of yet another ponderous government bureaucracy, with its panoply of ten chief executives and ten boards, all recruiting scarce specialist skills out of the commercial marketplace and into what is in effect a top heavy buying organisation. The fact that it has taken nine months to get to the point of agreeing 'Framework Agreements' with a number of suppliers tends to prove my point. A presentation from this organisation in December suggests '95% coverage by 2005' as the Government's target. My belief is that BT unaided will deliver at least that level of coverage in the same timescale; surely the role of Government is to bridge the gap, not set a target it knows the market will deliver for it?
The same presentation suggests an ambitious goal of 30% cost savings to be achieved through aggregation. It will be interesting to see how this is calculated, what costs are taken into account, and what, if any, surplus is generated to provide real assistance to unconnected people in remote rural areas and in hamlets that are too far from their exchange for ADSL and - in most cases - too far from a local school, GP practice or other public institution. How will the Adit up?
Since URLs for the Government's press releases are so dauntingly long, I've added a copy to my website for those who are interested - it's in my broadband pages.