UK promises best broadband in Europe by 2015

The UK Government has outlined plans to bring super-fast broadband into every home in Britain by 2015.

Culture Secretary Jeremy Hunt said that the scheme, which will be seeded by an £830 million levy on BBC licence payers but backed by up to £28 billion in private sector investment from broadband providers.

Much of the public money will be used to connect people living in rural areas who have largely been ignored by broadband providers because of the large investments involved for very little financial return.

Hunt said the investment could lead to the creation of hundreds of thousands of jobs, pointing to the rise of Internet shopping and tele-medicine as two areas which would benefit from faster broadband for all.

The Minister told the BBC that the strategy would give the UK Europe's best broadband network by 2015 and would be central to economic growth.

The Government hasn't outlined exactly how fast the new network will have to be in order to be the best in Europe but says it will adopt a scorecard system which will focus on speed, coverage, price and choice.

Although there's no official definition of what constitutes a 'super-fast' connection, general consensus is that 24Mb/s is the minimum.

The plan is to create a 'digital hub' in every community which has been likened to a village water pump, leaving broadband providers to make the final link between that hub and people's homes. £50 million of the £830 million has been set aside for trials in rural areas.

"There are still nine million adults in the UK who have never accessed the Internet," said Hunt. "This is going to help them get on-line with the rest of the country."