Friday, 30 January 2009

“All British Homes to Have Broadband by 2012” according to ‘Digital Britain’ report

The government yesterday published an interim report, titled ‘Digital Britain’, with the aim of creating an action plan that would secure the UK's place at the head of the new media age. The report tackles everything from broadband speeds to internet regulation and public service broadcasting. Prime Minister Gordon Brown identified the importance of the report by stating that digital technology is as important today as "roads, bridges and trains were in the 20th Century".

One of the main points to come out of the report was the government’s desire to get all British households on at least 2Mbs speed broadband by 2012. Currently, around 40% of British households already have broadband internet. Similarly it is believed that by 2012 £1 in every £5 of all new commerce in this country will be online. One issue that the report looked at was illegal copying and sharing music and films using the internet. Lord Carter has proposed the creation of a 'Rights Agency' to deal with the problem of people illegally copying and sharing music and films over the internet. The agency would be funded by internet service providers (ISPs) and the music and film industry paying a ‘broadband tax’. A further issue was the possible digitalisation of radio, which would signal the end of analogue wireless radio.

However, the government’s aims though have been hit with criticism by other members of parliament. Shadow culture minister Jeremy Hunt has said that the report should have given a more strategic plan, rather than a sole review of British media. He also criticised Culture Secretary Andy Burnham his proposal for nationwide 2Mbs broadband is almost half of the current British average speed of 3.6Mbs. Similarly, the Liberal Democrats' culture, media and sport spokesman Don Foster has called the report disappointing and again claims that is lacks a strategic plan of action, “We've spent lots of money on reviews, but all we now have is a strategy group, an umbrella body, a delivery group, a rights agency, an exploratory review, a digital champion and an expert task force.”

The government has committed itself to undertake 22 actions as a result of the report, regarding next generation internet, mobile wireless and digital TV and radio. These actions can be listed here. A summary of the report’s findings can be found here. A full copy of the report can be viewed here.

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