Digital Britain: UK to make broadband universal by 2012

16 Jun 2009

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The digital economy will be vital to the UK’s economic future, and as part of the country’s Digital Britain report published today, universal access to broadband will be made a reality in 2012, with ‘superfast broadband’ soon to follow.

The initiative driven by Lord Steve Carter has gained significant government backing, bolstered by a belief that increased digital participation will be key to building a 21st-century knowledge economy.

In other words, the UK has firmly staked its aim to be a world leader in the digital economy and aims to “reap the benefits of this rapidly transforming sector.”

The Digital Britain plan unveiled today by Lord Carter calls for universal access to today’s broadband by 2012 for everyone across the UK.

It also recommends the creation of a fund for investment in the next generation of ‘superfast broadband’ to ensure it is available to the whole country, not just some of it. A ‘superfast broadband’ strategy in South Yorkshire aims to deliver 25Mbps to every home in the region.

As well as instigating plans for a digital radio upgrade in 2015 and accelerating the net generation of mobile coverage and services, the plan proposes a new role for the telecoms regulator Ofcom to carry out a full assessment of the UK’s communications infrastructure every two years.

The plan has achieved strong political backing. The UK Prime Minister Gordon Brown commented: “Digital Britain is about giving the country the tools to succeed and lead the way in the economy of the future.

“This report shows how we will ensure we have a world-class digital and communications infrastructure, that we promote and protect talent and innovation in our creative industries, that we modernise our TV and radio frameworks and support local news.

“Investing in areas such as broadband access for every home and business and the move from analogue to digital technology will bring benefits across the board, driving growth, enabling businesses to thrive, and providing new opportunities and choices for households right across the country. It is an essential part of building Britain’s future,” Brown said.

The plan includes a three-year National Plan to Improve Digital Participation, which will include a revised digital remit for Channel 4 and a key role for the BBC.

The Digital Britain architects also want to turn the UK into one of the world’s main creative content capitals.

“Digital Britain is a statement of intent and ambition, a commitment to infrastructure and access, and an overdue recognition of the industrial importance of the creative industries,” Brown said.

He added: “The digital economy is a case study in the interdependence of competitive markets, regulation, entrepreneurialism, and a strategic approach from Government.”

By John Kennedy

This story is part of the Digital 21 campaign to encourage Ireland to develop a National Digital Development Plan, ensuring the country and its economy are strategically well placed to thrive in the 21st century. For more stories, and to add your comments, visit www.digital21.ie

Editor John Kennedy is an award-winning technology journalist.

editorial@siliconrepublic.com