Digital Britain Universal Broadband Plan Comes With Strings Attached

The Digital Britain report announced by Communications Minister Lord Carter promises a lot, especially when it comes to broadband connectivity as the government looks set to encourage the private sector to provide a 2mbps internet access to all UK households.

Acknowledging the fact that mainstream solutions - cable and ADSL - could not possibly help solve existing "broadband not-spots", Lord Carter has already confirmed that his team will be looking to talk with satellite communication service providers like Avanti Communications, to provide with alternative solutions.

Satellite technology constitute only one of the tools available to the incumbent companies to roll out a universal broadband service.

The problem though will be how to get private funds to pay for the deployment. In a time of great economic hardship, the government could yet have to rely again on some form of public/private initiative.

BT has already argued that, the obligation to provide a phone line to everyone in the country could cost it well over £700 million over the next decade, putting it an economic disadvantage compared to its rivals like Virgin Media.

Instead, wireless mobile broadband, using either existing mobile phone networks, could be the answer to not-spots. BT is rumoured to be considering a strategic joint-venture with T-Mobile and 3 Network, which could potentially help it reaching out for those left out.

But BT still has its own plans to follow like rolling out the 20CN next generation network and fending off assaults from competitors like Sky or Carphone Warehouse which are using BT's own copper lines to take on the telecommunications giant.

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Our Comments

One aspect that the report failed to cover is access to high speed broadband. The report mentions that all of the 27 million UK households should be able to have a "lowest common denominator" broadband speed even if it is rumoured to cost as much as £3.5 billion. Good but not good enough though. Other countries like France or Japan, will be looking down on us.

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