PM promises super-fast broadband for all

UK Prime Minister Gordon Brown has promised to democratise the Internet by offering publicly-subsidised super-fast broadband connections to every family in Britain.

The PM will outline plans today, ahead of Wednesday's budget, that will see every home in Britain connected to the Internet using cash from a controversial 50p per month levy on land lines and the BBC licensing fee.

Brown reckons the move will save billions in public service costs, create up to 250,00 new jobs and put Britain at the forefront of Internet technology.

"I want Britain to be the world leader in the digital economy, which will create over a quarter of a million skilled jobs by 2020, the world leader in public service delivery, where we can give voice and choice to citizens, parents, patients and consumers and the world leader in the new politics, where that voice for feedback and deliberative decisions can transform the way we make local and national decisions," he said.

He also said that allowing commercial interests like telecoms providers and ISPs to lead the way into the next generation of Internet connectivity would lead to a two-tier infrastructure where the poor and those living in rural areas would become second class digital citizens.

"One vision for digital Britain would create two nations: one digitally privileged, one digitally deprived," he said. "This will mean a massive penalty in economic development to those who are denied access because of a failure of government to rise to the challenge where markets fail."

The Government plans would give everyone in the country a personalised web page which would allow them to pay their tax bills, license vehicles and apply for passports. Unions are, of course, complaining that thousands of jobs will be lost due to the closure of the physical offices which currently service these needs.