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Govt reveals plan for universal 2Mb broadband

Digital Britain report tackles internet divide

The government has called for everyone in the UK to be given broadband access with a speed of at least 2Mbps in its Digital Britain report.

The findings of the report, in which Communications Minister Lord Stephen Carter looked at a number of areas of digital communications, were due to be released last week but were delayed until this afternoon.

A number of analysts had previously predicted the implementation of  minimum broadband speeds would be one of the recommendations in the report. Currently, ISPs are required to offer internet connections with minimum speeds of 28.8Kbps.

Next-generation broadband was also one of the 22 recommendations in the report. Lord Carter said the government would create a strategy group that will asses the demand for super-fast fibre-based internet access enabled speeds of up to 100Mbps, and whether the ISPs can finance the network themselves or if government investment is required.

The findings also reveal that the government intends to tackle illegal file-sharers by creating a Rights Agency designed to encourage legal downloading. It's also been tasked with finding a "technical copyright support solution" to help prevent illegal downloads.

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"The innovation, creativity and vitality of our communications industries rightly demand clarity from government on its role and a framework for the future. Delivering Digital Britain will depend upon a smart industry, working with a committed government to produce lasting solutions," said Carter.

According to Culture Secretary Andy Burnham: "Britain has always led the world in content creation" and the recommendations in the report would "carry forward this strength into the digital age".

James Parker, broadband manager at moneysupermarket.com, said: "If followed through, Lord Carter's plans to bring Britain up to speed in terms of broadband services will be a great step forward in ensuring households all over the country, wherever they are, can receive internet access.

"However, appropriate regulation is vital in this process, especially in the area of service provision. Broadband for all should be accompanied by strong competition in the market and households should be offered a choice of packages that are right for them. If all homes have access to a minimum speed they should be able to choose between a number of suppliers to provide this service. It's crucial the development of a 'broadband for all' plan ensures consumers have greater choice, so that the digital divide doesn't move from speed and access to a debate about money."

The full report will be made available in April.

See also: Nationwide fibre broadband backed by gov't report

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