Lord Carter’s Digital Britain report is out today and calls for universal 2MBps broadband access for the UK by 2012. Like business, he sees broadband as an essential utility (like a phone or the post), but one can’t help hoping that the service will be rather better delivered.
The Guardian quotes the prime minister, insisting that digital connectivity will be as essential as roads, bridges, trains and electricity:
"Today’s interim report from Lord Carter sets out the scale of our ambition to compete in the digital economy, a market currently worth over £50 billion a year in Britain alone and expected to grow rapidly in the future. Our digital networks will be the backbone of our economy in the decades ahead. We know that every aspect of our lives – every school, every hospital, every workplace and even every home – will depend on the services the digital network provides. It is as essential to our future prosperity in the 21st century as roads, bridges, trains and electricity were in the 20th century. And building these bridges to the future will need a clear lead from government combined with a strategic partnership between the private and public sectors."
The Channel 4 message boards are abuzz with comment (incidentally, Carter recommends a tie-up between C4 and BBC Worldwide). One commentator, David, sums up our view about the real need for universal broadband: "We run a small but successful business from a rural location. Like many other rural businesses we have huge problems with broadband speeds because BT refuse to upgrade their exchange.
"We would like to expand and take on more staff but unless we move, which we are unwilling to do, we cannot because our business is internet based."
Britain’s economy will only be rescued by small, entrepreneurial businesses that grow, innovate and create jobs. Huge, failed monoliths have had billions of pounds of government support. Now let’s get behind Britain’s saviours by giving them the basic tools they need to do business.
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