Broadband penetration – the social dimension: The statistics hide the human element

This is the text of my talk at OxOnLine 2010 – Connecting Oxfordshire - How can Oxfordshire provide the best digital infrastructure for the future?.

Thanks to David Doughty Chief Executive at Oxfordshire Economic Partnership for inviting me and Prof Steven Cowley for hosting the event and ofcourse to MEP James Elles for recommending me to speak at this event


- Perspective of a practitioner i.e. someone who has direct experience of social media

- Also that of an analyst


• Broadband Internet access – is a high data rate Internet access—64 kbit/s up to 2.0 Mbit/s typically contrasted with dial-up access using a56k modem

• In 2002, Gartner Dataquest said that the impact of ubiquitous broadband in the U.S. could total as much as $500 billion worth of goods and services produced over a span of ten years. But it also said the estimate is based on what it calls “true” broadband, defined as 10 megabytes per-second data transmission speeds.

• In 2010, Broadband celebrates its tenth birthday in Britain.

• A recent study by Said business school ranked UK as 31st out of 66. The study found that the average global download speed was 4.75Mbps (megabits per second). It is estimated that countries will need an average download speed of 11.25Mbps to handle future apps

• Top 5 : South Korea, Japan, Hong Kong, Sweden , Switzerland

• Sweden has the highest quality broadband in Europe. Sweden is the most successful country in closing the broadband quality gap with residents outside the most populated cities enjoying better quality than those in the cities. Sweden which reached an average download speed of 12.8Mbps. It has also made the pledge that 90 per cent of its population will be able to get speeds of 100Mbps by 2020, with 40 per cent already having it by 2015

• The South Korean government recently promised universal speeds of up to 1Gbps (gigabit per second) by 2012.

• Brazil has a goal of 40 million broadband households by 2014.

A provocative question: Does Broadband REALLY make a difference? Networks are only potential applications. Does it make a difference to the GDP if rural Scotland can download videos?


1) The old – The 90 year old blogger – Phyllis Greene, who is in hospice care in Ohio, talks about why she decided to start a blog at the age of 90 and how technology has brought a new dimension to her life. Year ago 90 year old blogger.

‘heavens knows I have time on my hand’

‘Blogging has been a life saver’

Sunday, September 19, 2010: All of you wonderful readers have me me realize that. even though I was assuming that I was writing for my own amusement and pleasure, there are people all over the world who now will search out this simple little blog.

I’m about to take a nap– after all, those of us in the public eye :-) need to get our rest. But first, I want to post this on my Facebook page-

I hope I they think of me fondly when I am gone

link at BBC for video

2) The young – Arrowes
Arrowes – how my son uses technology and Google

Communities are not uniform. They are niche. There is a community for the mainstream(babycenter) but also for your specific situation – from catholic mothers online to single parent fun


3) Society, Human rights and liberty
- Saudi Arabia – bloggers now need a license

- News has become a social experience: Pew Internet research study shows that an overwhelming majority of Americans — more than 90 percent — use multiple platforms to get their daily news, that the days of loyalty to a specific news outlet or brand are gone and that news has “become a social experience.”

4) Facebook, Twitter – conversations and a mirror of society
- Facebook and Bebo abuse – if a crime was committed by post – would we call it the ‘Royal mail killer?’

- Quit facebook campaign – only 15,000 pledged(not left!). vs 500 million active accounts and 150,000 new members per day

- Zuckerberg (FB founder) richer than Rupert Murdoch(79)

5) Jobs
3D printing could revolutionize manufacturing and lead to local manufacturing: A 3-D printer, which has nothing to do with paper printers, creates an object by stacking one layer of material — typically plastic or metal — on top of another, much the same way a pastry chef makes baklava with sheets of phyllo dough.

Its all about conversations. And Emergence. ie spontaneous collaboration with no central structure.

That’s how humanity has always worked!