Wednesday, 11 July 2012

Interview: Jake Berry MP

Michiel Willems spoke to Jake Berry, Member of Parliament for Rossendale and Darwen, and a former City solicitor, on the government’s role in developing and regulating the mobile phone industry, broadband issues and the future of the UK’s online infrastructure.

Jake Berry MP
How do you see the future of the mobile phone in the UK?
Already great strides have been made with the availability of many ‘apps’ giving mobile phones the flexibility of being more than just a communication tool. Indeed, one of the newer apps is to summon a taxi and have it arrive within minutes that takes you to the destination you have programmed and finally charges the cost to a credit/debit card and emails the receipt to the passenger.

What should happen to give mobile payments a breakthrough with the mass audience?
It is down to the banks and retailers to make a breakthrough with the mass audience. Without the participation of the majority of retailers and all banks it would not be viable. Costs and security issues would also have to be taken into account. As banks, retailers, phone manufacturers and many others are involved, there needs to be a common set of protocols and standards.

Do you think the current government is giving the telecoms industry the space to grow and develop?Yes, the British Government is undertaking a wide-scale review of the regulatory framework supporting the communications sector. The aim is to strip away unnecessary red tape and remove barriers to growth. The wider public interest will underpin the way we address these issues.

Do you think the Government should regulate the mobile industry more?
The Government is committed to the principle of independent regulation and will ensure that Ofcom has the right powers and duties to work in a way that gives businesses confidence in the regulatory system. It is crucial that the Government implements a deregulated framework suitable for the digital age and properly oriented towards growth is required in order to take account of the rapid pace of change in new communications technologies in the last few years.

How do you see the future of the internet?
Many of the most dynamic developments in broadband are in wireless devices and the development of very high data rates in mobility. Whether in the home or outside, consumers are enjoying services and content over devices which connect wirelessly.

Could give an example?
Grant Shapps MP, Minster for Housing, is calling on every social landlord to look long and hard at how they can help their tenants get online, from offering networks of public internet cafes to providing the technology to log on at home. The Minster for Housing said internet connectivity is considered by many to be the fourth essential utility, and should be a necessity, not a luxury. The Government is committed to helping demolish the unacceptable digital divide that is blocking social mobility for millions of council tenants.

Will the UK infrastructure be able to cope with increasing data demands?
The current Mobile networks were engineered to support a real-time voice service which supported roaming between cells. Today, devices such as Apple’s iPhone and iPad make very different demands on the network infrastructure, requiring operators to meet customer expectations of mobility, but with rapidly growing demands for data downloads.
Broadband infrastructure investment is vital in supporting the overall growth agenda. Rural and remote areas of the country should benefit from this infrastructure upgrade at the same time as more populated areas, ensuring that an acceptable level of broadband is delivered to those parts of the country that are currently excluded. Infrastructure sharing and new overhead deployment can play an important role in delivering superfast broadband that meets increasing data demands.

Do you embrace the concept of net neutrality?
Yes. The Internet has brought huge economic and social benefits across the world because of its openness and that must continue. Technology neutrality will be an essential criterion, as we believe a mix of technologies will be needed. It will be important that Government maintains its commitment to technology-neutral solutions for broadband.

Thank you for your time.

Jake Berry - Member of Parliament for Rossendale and Darwen
House of Commons
Twitter @jakeberryMP

Michiel Willems © 2012 CP Publishing Ltd. Pictures: /