The government’s universal broadband provision may be slower than we’d like, but it’s an essential part of social inclusion, said the former Minister behind Digital Britain
The UK government’s plan to provide a universal 2Mbps broadband service may be slower than users would like, but it’s essential for social inclusion, Lord Carter told a London conference today.
The Government announced a plan to provide universal 2Mbps broadband earlier this year, in response to the Digital Britain report produced by Lord Carter, then a minister. Today, he defended the government’s concentration on a minimum universal broadband service, at the IP09 event at London’s Olym[pia.
The government also announced plans to use a 50p-a-month levy to pay for faster broadband, but has recently been criticised for concentrating on coverage rather than broadband quality, as research suggests that broadband quality is crucial for a country to take a leadership role in the digital economy.
“Universal 2Mbps broadband is the technological equivalent of the minimum wage,” said Lord Carter, in response to a question from eWEEK Europe. “You have to have a base level – but we also have to have an answer to the quality question.”
In his speech, Lord Carter detailed reasons why faster broadband would be very hard to introduce and fund. Fibre-to-the-home is too expensive, and even fibre-to-the-curb would be impossible to fund under current carrangements for commercial credit, he said.
The consumer levy was one answer to this, and although it was controversial, he said in answer to a question: “If we don’t do this, what is the alternative?”
Seventy-nine of the Digital Britain recommendations had been adopted, leaving only three to be considered in future. But despite this apparent success, he described his previous role as a “fake politician”, possibly referring to the fact that he was co-opted from the House of Lords into the Government:
On a trip to China, he was congratulated by a Chinese politician – for adopting the Chinese model of unelected ministers.