On Monday, over 60 stakeholders and Ofcom colleagues attended the launch of a publication on the benefits super-fast broadband could bring to older and disabled people. The report was commissioned by Ofcom’s Advisory Committee for Older and Disabled People (for whom I act as Policy Manager and Ofcom liaison).
The report stemmed from ACOD’s view that the case for NGA is all too often dominated by provision of entertainment services, for example, faster downloads, HDTV, multi player gaming etc. to the detriment of the wider social case.
Many committee members were aware of a range of NGA trials and pilots, but we were unable to find an authoritative single source which brought these examples together. The research aimed to redress this, by showcasing the wider benefits of NGA technology – with a particular focus on products and services which would particularly (but not exclusively) benefit older and disabled people.
Attendees heard first from Ofcom CEO Ed Richards, who outlined the importance of ACOD to Ofcom and the challenge of stimulating interest in NGA amongst a group that often thinks they don’t need broadband, nevermind super-fast broadband!
Jonathan Freeman, from i2 media who led the research, then talked through the main findings before joining a panel which also included Simon Roberts from Intel, Stephen Dodson from DC10plus and Maurice Mulvenna from ACOD.
Questions from the audience focussed on the need to turn the ideas and benefits in the report into a reality, as well as a rally call for Government and industry to take the lead (like ACOD a number of stakeholders feel there is a large untapped commercial market here). Attendees also discussed the principle of developing services based on what consumers want, not what the technology can offer/deliver.
Unfortunately the event overran, so there wasn’t as much time for questions as everyone would have liked, but it didn’t stop many of them staying for well over an hour after the event to chat and network.
The report has generated some online coverage; I’ve posted a few selections below. It was also promoted and discussed on twitter. Links to the slides, video of the event
Annex A: Extended summary of research report
Annex B: R&D activities
Annex C: Written responses