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The Strategic National Infrastructure Assessment of Digital Communications


  • Edward Oughton

    (Cambridge Judge Business School, University of Cambridge)


This paper provides a compendium of the key issues currently facing digital communications and reviews their relevance for the UK's National Infrastructure Assessment of digital infrastructure. The methodology focuses on taking a horizon scanning approach to obtaining current information from a range of authoritative decision-makers across industry, government and academia. After structuring the issues identified, these areas were examined in detail by a multi-disciplinary research team covering engineering, economics and computer science. The key finding shows that future demand uncertainty is the major issue affecting the digital communications sector and holding back increased investment. Moreover, this uncertainty is being driven primarily by the relatively rigid willingness to pay of end-users, the shift from fixed to wireless forms of access, and the ongoing convergence in digital applications and services. The key contribution of this paper is not just to illustrate the issues and trends within the digital communications sector, but also to identify the need for more research to understand how the sensitivity of future demand affects infrastructure performance and cost under different demographic, economic and technical scenarios.

Suggested Citation

  • Edward Oughton, 2017. "The Strategic National Infrastructure Assessment of Digital Communications," Working Papers 2017/02, Cambridge Judge Business School, University of Cambridge.
  • Handle: RePEc:jbs:wpaper:201702

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Lars-Hendrik Roller & Leonard Waverman, 2001. "Telecommunications Infrastructure and Economic Development: A Simultaneous Approach," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 91(4), pages 909-923, September.
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    3. Mattia Nardotto & Tommaso Valletti & Frank Verboven, 2015. "Unbundling The Incumbent: Evidence From Uk Broadband," Journal of the European Economic Association, European Economic Association, vol. 13(2), pages 330-362, April.
    4. Angelou, Georgios N. & Economides, Anastasios A., 2014. "Investment flexibility and competition modeling for broadband business," Telecommunications Policy, Elsevier, vol. 38(5), pages 438-448.
    5. Alizadeh, Tooran & Farid, Reza, 2017. "Political economy of telecommunication infrastructure: An investigation of the National Broadband Network early rollout and pork barrel politics in Australia," Telecommunications Policy, Elsevier, vol. 41(4), pages 242-252.
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    Cited by:

    1. Sergii Kolodynskyi & Tetiana Drakokhrust & Maryna Bashynska, 2018. "The Innovative Infrastructure Of Economic Development In The Framework Of International Digital Transformation," Baltic Journal of Economic Studies, Publishing house "Baltija Publishing", vol. 4(4).
    2. Oughton, Edward J. & Lehr, William & Katsaros, Konstantinos & Selinis, Ioannis & Bubley, Dean & Kusuma, Julius, 2021. "Revisiting Wireless Internet Connectivity: 5G vs Wi-Fi 6," Telecommunications Policy, Elsevier, vol. 45(5).

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