Every home in the UK will have superfast broadband by 2020,
Prime Minister Gordon Brown has pledged.
In a speech today Brown said super fast broadband is the
'electricity of the digital age' which must be rolled out to every
Brown said faster broadband speeds would create more efficient
public services, free up trade and bring about advanced
He said rolling out superfast broadband could not be left to
market forces as this could lead to coverage determined not by
need or by social justice, but by profitability and a lasting,
pervasive and damaging new digital divide.
Jim Knight, the minister responsible for digital inclusion,
reinforced Brown's message today. In an interview with Radio 5
Live he said: 'You offer incentives to the market to get to those
areas that otherwise they're not going to be able to make a
profit out of going to.'
He added: 'If you just leave it up to the market it'll only go
to into the cities, it won't get out into rural Cornwall, for
example, without some form of public subsidy.'
The government is planning a 50p-a-month levy on landlines to
help fund the roll out in rural areas.
The Conservatives oppose the tax claiming it will force BT to
open up its network to competition, and if necessary use cash
from the BBC licence fee to fill in gaps in the fast broadband
Minister also pledged to create a single website bringing together all
government and public sector services.
Citizens will be able to
manage pensions and benefits, pay council tax, apply for school places and
jobs, and book doctor's appointments via the website.
Brown said the website
would make British government become ‘the most efficient, open and responsive’
in the world.
The Government will also
provide funding of £30m for a new Institute of Web Science,
headed by Sir Tim Berners-Lee, inventor of the world wide web.
Industry players welcomed the move but warned that the Government gets the technology right before the roll out.
Tristan Wilkinson, Director for Public Sector, EMEA, Intel said the Digital Public Services Unit was welcomed.
However, he warned: 'As the details emerge over the coming weeks, it is essential that the groups that can provide real innovation both in thought leadership and the delivery of such a vision are engaged in a meaningful way and that Government doesn’t disappear into a bunker to then emerge with a solution.’
Des Speed, CEO of Lagan Technologies, said the Government plans must form part of a more coherent service management and delivery strategy.
He added: ‘A two-dimensional page needs to be part of effective three-dimensional service provision.There are risks, for example, that bottlenecks and false expectations can be created. In our experience, any government to citizen implementation must be designed with the benefits in mind before any decision is made about the tools.’