The UK government has finally acknowledged the significance of providing high speed broadband access to all, with the government agreeing to initially funding £250 million for broadband rollout by 2012.
This notable budget allocation follows the Lord Carter’s Digital Britain report, which proposed the creation of universal service obligation (USO) to deliver 2Mbps broadband connection to every household across UK within the stipulated time.
In his budget speech, the chancellor, Alistair Darling said that he was “allocating extra funding for digital investment to help extend the broadband network to almost every community”.
The chancellor further announced that the USO will be backed by the government, in part, by any sum left over from the Digital TV switchover endeavours from the BBC.
The BBC allocated a whopping £803 million from license fees to make sure that everybody could switch to digital television. However, the National Audit Office has estimated that £250 million might not be even required.
Darling further asserted that the additional funding will be provided by “communication providers, and those who provide communication services over the network”, as proposed by Lord Carter in his report .
In addition, Darling also vowed support to enhance fundamental digital skills and encourage broadband take-up.
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Plans for Universal broadband will costs hundreds of millions and whether they will actually generate revenues remain to be seen. The 2Mbps minimal requirement is far too low for modern-day broadband. By the time these first USO lines will be available, 50Mbps or faster services will already be available in the UK and will leave USO users wanting for more.