Superfast broadband plans today received a boost as the government announced ambitions to bring ‘the best broadband network in Europe’ to the UK by 2015.
The broadband plan, published today in government report ‘Britain’s superfast broadband future’, outlines plans to install digital hubs in every community in the country, with ‘high speed connections to the nearest broadband exchange and communities working with local providers to extend networks to individual homes.’
Superfast broadband expected to stimulate economy
Report author Jeremy Hunt, Secretary of State for Olympics, Culture, Media and Sport, said in a speech earlier today: ‘A superfast network will be the foundation for a new economic dynamism, creating hundreds of thousands of jobs and adding billions to our GDP’.
He added that moving government services online will save billions of pounds of taxpayers’ money.
Superfast broadband availability
The government announcement follows plans revealed by BT last week to trial 1Gbps broadband on part of its fibre network. BT expects to roll out its new, fibre network to two-thirds of UK homes by 2015, offering speeds of up to either 40 or 100Mbps. Meanwhile, Virgin Media’s existing cable broadband network already offers speeds of up to 50Mbps to around half of UK homes.
You can find out what superfast broadband deals are already available in the UK in the Which? broadband review.
However, company investment in networks is not expected to reach all UK homes, as installing fibre in less populated areas may offer a poor return on investment.
The government believes that its public investment of £830 million will help connect areas that market forces alone cannot reach. The government’s strategy anticipates taking a mixed technology approach, with fixed line broadband, wireless broadband and satellite broadband all playing a role.
Mr Hunt says that the combination of private investment by broadband networks and public investment by government could bring superfast broadband to around 90% of the UK population.
2Mbps broadband ‘not enough’
The government strategy announced today rolls together plans outlined as part of Digital Britain, originally put together by the former administration, to bring 2Mbps broadband to all by 2015 and the government’s original superfast broadband strategy. Speaking to the Today Programme, Mr Hunt said that ‘giving people two meg is not enough, what people use the internet for is changing the whole time.’
However, the government has not stated in its press releases what minimum speed qualifies as ‘superfast broadband’.
Which? broadband expert Ceri Stanaway says: ‘The government’s new plans certainly sound impressive, and may provide hope to some parts of the UK currently on the wrong side of the broadband digital divide, which struggle to even achieve 1Mbps at present.
‘But the government only expects the public/private investment combo to bring superfast broadband to around 90% of the UK population, leaving 10% still lagging behind the rest of the UK.
‘Plus fast broadband availability is only part of the equation of getting people online – it must be combined with affordability, education and honest advertising of broadband speeds to help people fully benefit from the online experience.’
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