Mixed messages, the UK broadband commitment

Finland have recently passed legislation which secures their citizens a "legal right" to broadband. This step forward for Finland has resulted in a right to 1mbps broadband for all homes. This passing of law has sparked debate within the UK, discussing the British government's similar plans for the totality of UK broadband users.

According to the BBC Technology page, In a speech to MPs this week, Digital Britain minister Stephen Timms told MPs that the government's promise of broadband to all homes by the year 2010 was "an obligation."

Upon previous governmental discussion regarding this matter, MPs have only spoken of a "commitment" rather than an "obligation", only the latter of which is legally binding. The notion of providing broadband for every citizen within the UK was first heard in the Digital Britain Report which announced that the government would "commit" to a minimum level of 2Mbps for all homes by 2012.

This debate between one man's "obligation" and another's "commitment" has caused some confusion amongst UK broadband users to the extent that The Department for Business, Innovation and Skills have had to correct the minister, Stephen Timm's, reiterating that his comments were "a slip of the tongue", adding that the plans for UK broadband remained a "commitment." Andrew Ferguson, editor of broadband news site ThinkBroadband commented on this matter for the BBC:

"As yet the USO [Universal Service Obligation] or USC [Universal Service Commitment] has not been defined properly, the forthcoming Digital Economy bill and various groups working to implement it should hopefully flesh out the detail, but as is often the case we see grand plans announced, which are slowly watered down to cope with those harder-to-deal-with areas. In the UK we are at a juncture where a minister is calling for something tougher than what the original Digital Britain report laid out, but is certainly more in line with what many of the public we suspect always believed the report meant."

Finland is also promising its citizens 100mbps broadband via fibre, available to all by 2015, knocking two years off of the UK's plans. According to the UK's Office for National Statistics, the growth of broadband users in the UK has been steadily increasing since 2006. 18.3 million households in the UK (70 percent) had Internet access in 2009, an increase of just under 2 million households (11 percent) over the last year, and 4 million households (28 per cent) since 2006.

Report a problem with article
Previous Story

Cross game chat confirmed for next PS3 firmware update

Next Story

NeowinCAST In Depth: Mobile Broadband

19 Comments - Add comment