It will not be news to those working in the IT sector that developing a comprehensive and cohesive digital infrastructure is absolutely fundamental to our future economic prosperity and to increased quality of life. If we want to emerge stronger out of the downturn and lay the foundations for long-term sustainable growth, then it is imperative that we make the most of the digital and communications industries - where there is already a strong growth story and where there are substantial opportunities to create further future revenues and jobs, writes Pat McFadden, minister for business, innovation & skills.
The Digital Britain Report set out to establish a clear and achievable strategy to secure Britain's place at the forefront of the global digital economy. To achieve that goal we need a fundamental upgrade to our wired and wireless networks. This means action on spectrum, broadcasting and, perhaps most crucially, broadband.
Today, 2.75 million homes in the UK cannot even receive a 2mbps broadband service, so we are committed to providing universal service broadband at 2mbps by 2012. This is a floor for connectivity, not a ceiling for ambition, but it does go further than any country in Europe has on universality.
In addition, recent months have seen an energetic market-led roll-out of next generation superfast fixed networks. This will and should continue, but if we are to achieve the aim of establishing Britain's status as a world leader in the global digital economy, then an active and strategic approach is required by the government, because it is clear that the market, unaided, will not fully serve the final third of the population. So, we have proposed an extra 50p on everyone's monthly telecoms bill to ensure that next generation broadband is also delivered to the final third of the country where, so far, market providers say it is uneconomic to go.
However, the Digital Britain report goes further than establishing how we will create a modern infrastructure to support a modern digital economy and society. It outlines how we plan to upgrade skills capabilities, convert research and innovation into market beating products and services, how the UK can be one of the world's main creative centres and the establishment of a smarter and more joined-up government - all essential components of a successful modern knowledge economy.
In the Digital Britain report we have set out the framework for future success, but to accelerate growth, grasp all the opportunities available and cement the country's place as a world leader, we will need to partner with those who work in the digital and communications sectors and draw on their expertise and support. Only by doing this will we ensure that Britain will be at the forefront of the global digital economy, generating wealth and employment opportunities for this and future generations.
This was first published in July 2009