Cash boost signals faith in broadband

Last week the Government announced that the UK's regions are to get a £30m boost to give local businesses and computer users...

Last week the Government announced that the UK's regions are to get a £30m boost to give local businesses and computer users faster access to the Internet

The cash is part of a UK-wide drive to give more access to broadband telecommunications technology.

Internet users currently dependent on traditional telephone technology spend one third of their online time waiting for connections because of slow connectivity, the Government said.

It believes that broadband will enable the next leap forward in the communications revolution, providing fast access and always-on connection to the Internet, creating many new opportunities for business.

Currently there are 160,000 broadband users out of 13 million homes connected to BT telephone exchanges that could provide the service.

Broadband access enables private Internet users to order movies on demand, play computer games against opponents on the other side of the world and access interactive TV, while businesses can hold videoconferences, and rapidly transfer huge amounts of information, all of which would otherwise require a comprehensive IT infrastructure to support them. It would also speed up moves to get government services delivered online, in keeping with the Government's UK Online strategy.

English Regional Development Agencies, the Scottish Executive and the Welsh Assembly have been asked by e-commerce minister Douglas Alexander to bring forward innovative schemes to use the £30m to extend broadband networks and the use of broadband by business and domestic consumers in their areas.

Schemes are likely to include:

  • Pilot projects to demonstrate the benefits of broadband

  • Increasing the availability of information on broadband

  • Feasibility studies to identify action to extend broadband use

  • Identification of public bodies, including schools, which could obtain more cost-effective broadband connections

  • The development of action plans to extend broadband communication

  • The appointment of project managers to deliver on the action plan

  • Alexander said, "Broadband services will bring benefits to businesses and consumers alike. We are working to extend access to these services in every part of the UK. This funding will help stimulate actions across the country. This announcement marks the latest step as government along with industry face the challenge of building a broadband Britain.''

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