Putting fears aside for a moment, what are my hopes for 2013? That from the middle of March my son’s digital education won’t hang off a copper thread…

On the basis that the New Year is all-but upon us and it is the time that the world and his wife air their hopes and fears for 2013, so I thought we’d revisit where we are right now with our whole #21VC project – in particular, our hopes for a bigger, brighter and better-connected future for the communities of Loddon and Chedgrave, here in Norfolk.

In part, this was prompted by a green cabinet spotted on my walk home from the centre of Norwich this morning and the ‘news’ that BT’s fibre broadband had made it to a cabinet in Cringleford.

It has probably, likewise, made it to a similar green cabinet in Loddon.

After all, according to the latest from BDUK in these parts, it’s all ‘Go! Go! Go!’ as far as BT and Norfolk County Council are concerned. A ‘Superfast…’ future awaits us all. A ‘historic’ deal has been signed.

And here it is….

‘Ann Steward, Cabinet Member for Economic Development at Norfolk County Council, said: “What a fantastic Christmas present this contract is for Norfolk. It brings the promise of better broadband access and speeds for thousands of properties, with the first services due to be available by this time next year…”

We are, says Bill Murphy from BT, ‘This project will move Norfolk well and truly into the broadband fast lane…

And is due to be completed ‘by the autumn of 2015′. By when my son will be nearly 16. Whether his teenage education will ever get to be conducted by a fibre to his Loddon home is something, you sense, neither BT or Norfolk CC would wish to dwell on.

What’s been interesting of late is to read the whole ‘Where media?’ predictions for 2013; certainly in the sense of what devices are going to dominate our lives for the next 12 months.

Most ‘experts’ appear agreed. It had, for example, been a very good Christmas for the tablet and smartphone market… and those that run applications across either. Some 328 million more of them by the end of Christmas Day. The Observer was giving a list of the best apps for your tablet and smartphone. Curiously, I couldn’t find a similar list for your home PC.

Instead, analysts were predicting a tough time in 2013 for those used to attaching a box in the corner of the study to the wire – fibre or otherwise – from a BT cabinet.

‘So far, the PC industry has failed to create the kind of buzz and excitement among consumers that is required to propel Ultrabooks into the mainstream. This is especially a problem amid all the hype surrounding media tablets and smartphones…’ [My bold].

The picture to my right is the latest roll-out of the WiSpire broadband roll-out across Norfolk. Courtesy of the NESTA funding via our #21VC project for Loddon & Chedgrave, two ‘hops’ off the church spires of Bergh Apton and Ashby St Mary, and Loddon’s Holy Trinity Church should be armed with high-speed broadband by the end of next month.

Within 4-6 weeks thereafter, we will use that ‘pipe’ to feed a rural, public wifi cloud that we will drop over the community of Loddon & Chedgrave so any visiting tablet or smartphone user beneath it can get decent connectivity. And, at the same time, they can get offers from the local Co-Op, curry house and estate agent – all of whom know that said punters are literally less than 500-yards from their front door. Advertising for good, as Cindy Gallop might say.

For the community, they can access mobile broadband when out and about in the villages; in their home, they can now – potentially – opt to sign up for WiSpire’s domestic ISP services beamed, initially, direct into their village off the church tower.

All in the knowledge that together it is helping to support the young person in their village who is still holding local democracy to account at the monthly parish council meetings, namely Ben Olive and his LoddonEye platform.

And given the enhanced connectivity and the rise and rise of mobile video – be it to tablet or smartphone – we can then make the new-look LoddonEye video-led. Village video; parish ‘TV’. Broadcast off one, rural church tower.

That can, so easily, become a network…

The picture to my right is the TV transmitter mast ‘map’ of the UK. It is the one around which our terrestial TV masters at OfCom and DCMS have designed their new ‘Local TV’ roll-out. So Norwich ‘TV’ can happen because Tacolneston ‘mast’ is local. As is the one atop Winter Hill; or at least for some people on Birkenhead.

Such masts are, inevitably, big pieces of kit; far bigger than the three ‘masts’ that me and NESTA have just paid for atop the churches of St Peter and St Paul (Bergh Apton), St Mary (Ashby St Mary) and Holy Trinity (Loddon). And, equally, the services that they deliver to the box thing in the corner of the living room are complex and expensive beasts.

Way beyond the ken and purse of any parochial church council.

Which may, in part, explain the latest delay to the whole Local TV ‘roll-out’; individual licences may have been awarded to a clutch of pilot ‘local’ stations, but the contract to the big, infrastructure boys hasn’t – delays are afoot, as further clarification is sought.

Like BT’s plans for fibre to every rural cabinet, one version of ‘Local TV’ looks unlikely to hit our small screens until the end of the year.

Me? I’d hope to have our version of ‘Local TV’ on an even smaller screen by the middle of March.

Have a great New Year and here’s to an interesting 2013…


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