Gordon Brown has today set out plans to enrich the UK's broadband industry with ambitions to give next-generation super-fast broadband to everyone by 2020. He wants Britain to be the world leader of the digital economy, which will create over 250,000 skilled jobs by 2020, and he sees the Internet as a way of boosting public services to allow them to be delivered more efficiently.
"Superfast broadband is the electricity of the digital age. And I believe it must be for all - not just for some.
We have already decided to commit public funding to ensure existing broadband reaches nearly every household in Britain by 2012.
Now government must decide what action it will take to bring about universal access to the next generation of superfast broadband, simultaneously ensuring the highest quality content is available online and available to all.
The choice with broadband infrastructure is clear. We can allow the market to provide a solution on its own terms and according to its own timetable. The result would be superfast broadband coverage determined not by need or by social justice, but by profitability. This would open a lasting, pervasive and damaging new digital divide. It would allow the country to become split between a fast-track and a slow-track to the future, between those fortunate to live in densely-populated areas and those not.Gordon Brown, UK Prime Minister
No details of what exactly will be delivered by 2020 were released but this seems to correlate with the US plan's to deploy 'at-least' 100meg broadband to 100 million households by 2020, and we would expect a similar level of service to be considered here. Of course in 10 years, technology evolves rapidly, so we may look back and consider this 100meg goal as too low.
The talk also seems to be putting down Conservative ideas to let the market lead the way with incentives such as easements to planning rules to help encourage competition. It is true that the market alone would be unlikely to reach the entire population, but the proposals from the Conservatives do look to provide funding from the BBC license fee to places that the market can't reach from 2012 onwards. With the Budget being announced on Wednesday, we may see some further bits filter though this week. The 50p levy on telephone lines is expected to be cemented within this.