What the Queen's Speech means for the games industry

Queen's Speech

Universal access to superfast broadband was the headline proposal in the Queen's Speech today - the ceremony by which the government announces its legislative agenda for the next 12 months.

As part of a Digital Economy Bill, the government will create a Universal Service Obligation giving all households and businesses the legal right to have a superfast connection installed. This puts broadband on a par with telephone services and other utilities as a universal right.

'Superfast' will be defined as 10Mbps, with Ofcom empowered to update that number over time. As is the case for telephone landlines, there will be a 'reasonable cost threshold' above which the very remotest properties will be expected to contribute to the cost of installation.

The Bill will also make changes to planning laws and introduce a new Electronic Communications Code, both with the intent to make it simpler and cheaper to install new broadband and mobile infrastructure.

Separately, the Bill will also increase the maximum penalty for online copyright infringement - bringing it up to ten years to match the penalty for offline copyright infringement. This change has long been called for by the creative industries.

Several other Bills may also have an impact on the games industry, particularly in the field of education and skills:

Education for All Bill

This Bill will introduce the government's plans to turn all schools into academies (although not by force as previously intended). It will instead focus on schools in "under-performing and unviable" local authorities.

It will also introduce a new National Funding Formula which will "redress historical unfairness" in the funding given to schools in different parts of the country.

Higher Education and Research Bill

This Bill will seek to increase choice in higher education by making it easier for new universities to be created, and drive up standards through a new Teaching Excellence Framework.

It will also require universities to publish more information on their applications process, broken down by ethnicity, gender and socio-economic status, to increase recruitment from disadvantaged groups.

Better Markets Bill

Giving consumers more power and choice by opening up markets is the focus of this Bill. Although focused on utilities markets, particularly energy, this Bill may increase or change the powers of the Competition and Markets Authority, which may have longer-term impact on how games companies are regulated.