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Fibre, wireless and satellite to offer ubiquitous 2Mb broadband

Digital Britain report also gives Ofcom anti-piracy powers

The government plans to use a combination of next-generation fibre networks, wireless and satellite technology to ensure everyone in the UK has access to 2Mbps broadband by 2012, it revealed in its Digital Britain report.

Today's final publication lays out strategy for each of the points covered by the report's initial findings, which were released in January and were designed to map out the UK's digital future.

The government revealed that it would implement a Universal Service Commitment (USC) that will offer 2Mbps broadband for all by 2012. The scheme will be funded using £200m remaining in the Digital Switchover fund, as revealed by Chancellor of the Exchequer Alistair Darling in April's Budget.

However, contributions from private partners, the public sector and commercial gains through tendered contracts will also be used to fund the move. Roll-out of the service will be organised by the Network Design and Procurement Group, which will be appointed in the autumn. The report also said next-generation 100Mbps broadband would be paid for by a tax of 50p per month on all copper telephone lines.

The government also detailed its plans for tackling online piracy in the Digital Britain report. It is giving Ofcom the power to demand the identity of offenders from ISPs and then notify them of their unlawful activity. Repeat offenders will have their bandwidth hobbled by their ISP, as predicted by Culture Secretary Andy Burnham earlier this month. They may even be sued in court by copyright owners.

"Digital Britain is about giving the country the tools to succeed and lead the way in the economy of the future. This report shows how we will ensure we have a world-class digital and communications infrastructure and that we promote and protect talent and innovation in our creative industries," said Prime Minister Gordon Brown.

"Investing in areas such as broadband access for every home and business and the move from analogue to digital technology will bring benefits across the board, driving growth, enabling businesses to thrive, and providing new opportunities and choices for households right across the country. It is an essential part of building Britain's future."

However, James Parker, manager of broadband at comparison website moneysupermarket.com, warned: "The report states that funding for the rollout of the USC will come from the surplus funds from the Digital Switchover. However with over 90 percent of regions still to be switched over, allocating budgets at such an early stage could be a costly error. If government funding is not fully in place we may see levies on providers who in turn may pass this on to consumers.

"Internet users are increasingly accessing bandwidth heavy services like streaming high quality video, and our research shows a significant majority already find 2Mb too slow for many of these services."


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