Current and future challenges for the connectivity sector

On 15 May 2023, Netnod was given the opportunity by the Ministry of Finance to comment on a questionnaire on current and future challenges for the connectivity sector (Fi2023/01693 Frågor om dagens och framtidens utmaningar på konnektivitetsområdet).

Netnod has answered that there are substantial challenges for connectivity in Sweden. Most importantly, the public needs to be able and willing to finance robust and resilient digital infrastructure. 

The core of connectivity must be that the communications architecture should allow for any kind of societal development. The communications architecture is not allowed to hinder or shape the societal development in any way, shape or form 

Netnod also notes the increased bundling of infrastructure and use, which over time will restrict the ways which members of the society might use the digital infrastructure. The infrastructure must be agnostic of what the infrastructure is used for at the same time as it is agnostic itself.  This so that innovation can take place without the explicit permission of the network infrastructure.

Furthermore, Netnod notes that the Swedish government and agencies previously have been using the term “broadband” in policy and strategy documents, without defining or explaining what “broadband” is. However, one can read between the lines and come to the conclusion that “broadband” often implies “Internet access”. Access to a specific set of networks, and not an arbitrary high throughput last-mile connection technology. 

Therefore Netnod suggests that a connectivity architecture should be defined, and it should be defined in terms of different layers of the infrastructure, such as services, Internet access, unlit fiber, mobile data and so forth, and that the strategy should be explicit with regard to goals for each of these different layers. 

These definitions and specifications are needed both to formulate goals for different layers in the connectivity strategy and to allow for meaningful audit and regulatory oversight over time.