Fat Pipes and Connected People

The iSociety folks (principally James Crabtree of VoxPolitics) have published their latest think-piece, Fat Pipes and Connected People (it could perhaps be “Fat People and Connected Pipes” given the weight of the UK population these days).

The report’s focus is how we cross the “broadband chasm”, i.e. move from a world of early adopters to a mainstream market. Every product goes through this stage or dies in infancy – and the big thing about the Internet so far, as everyone knows, has been how fast it has got to mass penetration. The UK has accelerated in broadband usage from a slowstart thanks, I think, to a lot of focus from government in opening up the market – but there are still steps to be taken. Nearly three years ago when I first got ADSL I used to joke at conferences that its main use was keeping me up to date with operating system patches but now I couldn’t imagine going back to a slow connection – coupled with the wireless network at home (which is now stable and working very well), it’s a huge boost to productivity.

The authors have coined a new word “microbarriers” to reflect the impediments to getting mass penetration, as opposed to the macrobarriers that have been worked so far (availability, understanding, cost and customer service). I like this concept – it’s not dissimilar to the work that we’ve done on central infrastructure where the initial reasons for non-adoption are at a very high level and then as those are resolved the issues get smaller and smaller and along pareto lines, harder to dislodge.

With today’s news from Oftel that 50% of the UK is online (12.5 million households), 750,000 households connecting in the last three months and a forecast of 1 million new broadband users in the next 12 months, this is a timely report. Go read.

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