Universal broadband delayed until 2015
The UK Culture secretary, Jeremy Hunt, has at today's broadband summit announced a delay to the roll out of a universal 2meg broadband across the country. The government had previously stated they wanted to ensure virtually all homes could connect to the Internet at a speed of 2Mbps by 2012 but this has been delayed to 2015. Whilst the universal service obligation (USO) wouldn't have made it to every home, dropping this back by three years is a blow to the UK's broadband roll out.
The reason for the delay is blamed on the previous government having left insufficient resources to meet the target. Labour put forward plans to implement a 50p tax on all phone lines to help fund investment in to next-generation broadband for rural areas, which when deployed, would have no doubt helped boost some communities well past the 2meg barrier. Labours plans for directly investing in 2meg by 2012 would have used the excess funding from the digital switchover (DSO) to fund this. The new government are now saying that this isn't enough to cover all areas. It's not clear where they instead expect to find a new source of funding, particularly with industry asking for more public money to deploy next-generation services.
Hunt also reiterated today his ambition that the UK should have "the best broadband network in Europe" by the end of parliament in 2015, but gave more information in that he defines this in terms of the number of people connected and the speed of their access. Whilst many will be connected to fibre-to-the-cabinet deployments by this date, there may still be great swathes of people on slower services and only just receiving 2meg broadband, widening the broadband divide.