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UK Government releases Digital Britain report

UK Government releases Digital Britain report

The UK Government has published the Digital Britain report today and the main points were outlined in parliament today.

Culture Secretary Ben Bradshaw outlined the future of the UK's digital infrastructure in parliament this afternoon following the publication of Communications Minister Lord Carter's Digital Britain report today.

The main parts of the report include:
  • Universal access to today’s broadband services by 2012
  • Next Generation fund for investment in tomorrow’s broadband services
  • Upgraded mobile networks and liberalisation of 3G spectrum
  • A three-year National Plan to boost Digital Participation
  • Robust legal and regulatory framework to combat Digital Piracy
  • Support for public service content partnerships and revised digital remit for Channel 4
  • Funding options for national, regional and local news
  • Programme of Digital Switchover in Public Services, including upgrading all Radio stations to digital by 2015
Bradshaw announced that the Government is planning a 50 pence-per-month supplement on fixed-line connections as part of a national fund to help pay for the next-generation of broadband. He said that private investment alone wouldn't be enough to guarantee a nationwide rollout of fibre broadband.

"Left to the market, true super-fast broadband will only reach two thirds of homes and businesses in the next decade," claimed Bradshaw. The national fund created by the broadband tax would raise enough money to roll out the next-generation of broadband to the remaining third of the UK's population by 2017, said the report.

The Government will also legislate to stop illegal file-sharing and said it will provide "a framework that encourages the growth of legal markets for downloading that are inexpensive, convenient and easily accessible for consumers." Regulator Ofcom will be tasked with securing "a significant reduction in unlawful file sharing by imposing two specific obligations: notification of unlawful activity and, for repeat-infringers, a court-based process of identity release and civil action."

In order to encourage inexpensive but legal digital content distribution, the report says that the Government will "make some changes to the legislative framework around copyright licensing." The report doesn't really go into a lot of detail on exactly how the copyright laws might be changed though, saying that some issues are National while others are the responsibility of the EU.

The report also confirms the Government's commitment to universal 2Mb/sec broadband by 2012, which will be met via "several elements including simple and complex in-house wiring solutions, deploying fibre to the street for a selected number of cabinets and a wireless solution using either mobile or satellite".

The Government does admit that resolving in-house wiring issues could come at a cost to the consumer, but the industry would be expected to foot the bill for deployment of wired or wireless networks that meet the 2Mb/sec threshold. What the report doesn't say though is how these costs will be shared: "It is not possible to include quantitative information on the expected costs and benefits of these proposals as they may influence the outcome of the subsequent competitive tendering process. These will be published in a final impact assessment which will be produced once this has taken place," said the report.

The Digital Britain report is a massive 245 pages long and if you're interested in reading the whole report you can grab it from the Department of Culture's website.

Discuss in the forums.

47 Comments

Discuss in the forums Reply
Bauul 16th June 2009, 18:09 Quote
I'm intregued by the 50p a month addition. On the one hand, spreading the wealth to secure universal high-speed connection is a good thing, but on the other it IS a Broadband Tax, and new taxes are always a little bit scary.
Frohicky1 16th June 2009, 18:14 Quote
Bravo! About time we got a proper broadband network rather than that sh*te copper stuff BT make us use. Roll on Ghost In The Shell ^^
Tyrmot 16th June 2009, 18:18 Quote
Actually isn't it 2Mbps not 2MB/sec - and that doesn't seem that 'Digital Futuristic' to me... maybe 5 would have been a better target?
Tim S 16th June 2009, 18:20 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by Tyrmot
Actually isn't it 2Mbps not 2MB/sec

Typo, fixed.
Bauul 16th June 2009, 18:26 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by Tyrmot
Actually isn't it 2Mbps not 2MB/sec - and that doesn't seem that 'Digital Futuristic' to me... maybe 5 would have been a better target?

Seriously? Ensuring every tiny farm in the highlands of Scotland 50 miles from the nearest exchange has a guranteed 2Mbps is going to take a crazy amount of investment and time. There are some places in the country that don't even get any broadband, let along 2Mbps.
Tim S 16th June 2009, 18:29 Quote
yeah, the poor sods don't have any mobile coverage up there either... what I would do for a world without email when I go home! :p
Jamie 16th June 2009, 18:33 Quote
I wish my parents could get 2Mbps, they're lucky to get over 700Kbps and they live in Oxfordshire.
Mankz 16th June 2009, 18:39 Quote
50p per month ain't all that bad.

But I'd just love so see them try and stop illegal file-sharing.

;)
Sir Digby 16th June 2009, 18:43 Quote
Meh, if they're aiming at 2Mbps I assume they're going to continue using telephone lines - we need an optical cable infrastructure really.

Also, who bets that it'll be assumed that P2P=piracy?
ch424 16th June 2009, 18:48 Quote
Who's betting they just give all the extra cash to the CEO of Tiscali to pay himself as a bonus?
liratheal 16th June 2009, 18:50 Quote
No qualms with this.

So long as it means those of us not in the back end of nowhere start to get modern broadband services - IE: better than the **** we have at the moment, approaching SK speeds preferably.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Sir Digby
Also, who bets that it'll be assumed that P2P=piracy?

That's hardly a fair bet :P
EvilRusk 16th June 2009, 19:02 Quote
The 50p per month will go to paying for a "fact finding mission to California" amongst other expense claims.

We already have systems that can do 8Mbps in our area, but that is worthless when the ISP doesn't have enough network capacity at peak times (i.e. 8am to midnight).

If such a broadband tax is introduced, will this mean the government will start levying demands on ISPs in exchange for access to the fund?
Kode 16th June 2009, 19:04 Quote
just read chapter 4, what a complete waste of time, all this report does is pander to the copyright industries. it claims "The BPI claim P2P file-sharing costs the UK music industry £180m pa (2008) while IPSOS gives a
loss in the UK for TV and films of £152m (2007)." thats right, they CLAIM, and we all know how they get these kind of figures, from the notion that a download is the same as a lost sale, yet just 2 points later it states "A recent study in Scandinavia has shown that the biggest users of unlawful peer-to-peer material are also the biggest paid-for consumers of music." ... i'm really disgusted with this section of the report.

On the plus side i do like the idea of upgrading the countires infrastructure, its long over due
Phil Rhodes 16th June 2009, 19:09 Quote
Quote:
Bradshaw announced that the Government is planning a 50 pence-per-month supplement on fixed-line connections as part of a national fund to help pay for the next-generation of broadband. He said that private investment alone wouldn't be enough to guarantee a nationwide rollout of fibre broadband.

So let's get this straight. Privatised telecoms can't be bothered to pay for it, so we'll pay for it.

Then it'll be run, for profit, by privatised telecoms.

There's something wrong here.
Quote:
Left to the market, true super-fast broadband will only reach two thirds of homes and businesses in the next decade,

Yay, privatisation!
Er-El 16th June 2009, 19:47 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by Phil Rhodes
So let's get this straight. Privatised telecoms can't be bothered to pay for it, so we'll pay for it.

Then it'll be run, for profit, by privatised telecoms.

There's something wrong here.


Yay, privatisation!
I'm all for paying for it, so long as it means securing net neutrality.
Burnout21 16th June 2009, 20:29 Quote
50p extra a month isn't alot of cash to pay out, but what i dislike is the fact that i am already paying for a service and to pay out some more just so the government can take a slice just makes me very disappointed in everything.

The joke is i am on fibre with virgin and should be getting 2MB/s and three months ago was told the connection was being upped to 10MB/s, none of that has happened and i am lucky to see 1.5MB/s at midnight on new years eve or someother event where everyone else is doing something other than being online.

Now i know my problem lie's with my ISP, but an extra £6 a year isn't gonna fix squat in my view, all the millions of metres of cable to be replaced, all the exchanges to be upgraded, not to mention anything else that needs doing.
digitaldave 16th June 2009, 20:33 Quote
i read about this today, gordo the clown was claiming glory for it.

I saw his name and switched off, obviously it will never happen, more lies from the gormless unelected dictator nobody in UK wants
Phil Rhodes 16th June 2009, 20:34 Quote
Quote:
net neutrality

Where's that mentioned?

You think by giving the telcos a billion-pound gift of infrastructure at the public expense they're going to immediately become nice?
digitaldave 16th June 2009, 20:47 Quote
ok so i read the article, gov want us to pay for piracy surveillance whilst "unfortunately missing the targets originally set out"

this may actually happen, as its taking money from us and will not really benefit the majority of UK voting public.

yeah its dressed to look like a good thing, like the terror laws brought in to allow councils to go through your bins, i dont for one min see this as anything but bad for us.
Er-El 16th June 2009, 21:02 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by Phil Rhodes
Where's that mentioned?

You think by giving the telcos a billion-pound gift of infrastructure at the public expense they're going to immediately become nice?
Nope that's not what I meant.
The whole fear in losing net neutrality is based around how web service providers like Yahoo, Microsoft, everyone and customers want faster and more stable internet. Therefore ISPs need to upgrade their whole infrastructure which will cost billions. This is where the fear of losing net neutrality comes from, in that people believe ISPs could turn to prioritised trafficking with companies for extra income and with different websites for different prices making the internet a lot less open, in order to cover the costs of upgrading the broadband network.

If the government subsidise some money into this Fibre Optic initiative it could be one extra self-assurance that ISPs won't be tempted.
mikeuk2004 16th June 2009, 21:02 Quote
Im happy with my 8mb Broadband, why should I have to pay a Tax so other can get broadband. The telecomunications services should be paying this because its their customers and not the governments.
Jamie 16th June 2009, 21:15 Quote
50p tax on internet connections is like taxing people that use supermarkets so they can buy land for supermarket companies to build on so we have one within 3 miles of every home in the UK.
l3v1ck 16th June 2009, 21:28 Quote
If they think I'm going to pay part of my license fee to watch adverts in ITV, they can think again.
badders 16th June 2009, 21:36 Quote
Yeeeees! only 2 1/2 years till I get 2Mbps broadband!
SNIPERMikeUK 16th June 2009, 21:49 Quote
BT already made an increase in line rental last month, where does this go if it does not include updates to service?

Once upon a time BT layed lines, they charged us forever for these lines, we still to do this modern day pay for these lines.....
Then came a day when they wanted us to pay to lay new ones, to make more money.......GREED AGREED......
VipersGratitude 16th June 2009, 22:30 Quote
I just don't understand how it's justified...especially for citizens of Northern Ireland

Northern Ireland:
pop. density: 122/km2
Broadband penetration: 100%
When: 2006
Taxes levied to get to 100%: None


UK

pop. density: 246/km2
Broadband penetration: Broadband penetration in the UK has gone so high that the Office for National Statistics has discontinued its quarterly reporting of broadband growth. Nearly 60% of broadband users in the UK enjoy speeds of 2Mbps or higher.
When: 2009
Taxes proposed to get to 100%: £6 per year
fodder 16th June 2009, 22:35 Quote
What is this about 'it shouldn't be a tax... should be paid for by the telecoms company/government...'

Is maths not taught these days? Do these people have magic money trees? Come on people, get real. Investing in this means money, money has to raised from somewhere. If the telecoms pay for it, they get the money by increasing margin on what they sell. IE the line to existing users. If the government pays for it, who do you think pays the government? We do, via our taxes.


WE PAY FOR IT!! one way or another, if it does happen we will pay for it.

By pushing for the government to fund it you will have a bigger bill to pay. More committees, more admin, more expenses :-). At least with a private company they keep an eye on overheads to maintain profits.
lewchenko 16th June 2009, 22:45 Quote
Not impressed.

50p Tax isnt a lot.... but before I start paying 1p in extra taxes for this I would want someone to tell me exactly when I can expect my super fibre optic to be installed... as I have a suspicion that I will be paying this tax for the next 10yrs, and my broadband quality will stay exactly the same...whilst all the people in rural england / people who cant afford broadband are subsidised beyond belief.

I also wish Virgin would install their cable in the area where I live so that I have some real choice, rather than paying for adsl + line rental.
LeMaltor 16th June 2009, 23:33 Quote
Sickening.
whisperwolf 17th June 2009, 00:24 Quote
so we're back to private industry not bothering to invest in future tech and preventative maintenance, then when it breaks complaining to the government that they will now need tax payer cash to fix it in a sensible time frame. First trains, then banks now telecoms, hurrah capitalism and the free market is apparently dead. If these are essential services required to meet EU targets, then they should not be in the hands of private enterprises more interested in stock prices and dividends, than keeping their business competitive and up-to-date.
FuzzyOne 17th June 2009, 00:47 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by Burnout21
three months ago was told the connection was being upped to 10MB/s, none of that has happened

http://www.virginmedia.com/myvirginmedia/gofaster/timetable.php
ZERO <ibis> 17th June 2009, 02:26 Quote
All your base R belong to us. If you have a problem please submit a complaint in the proper form and address it to the gates of hell where the central bureaucracy resides (license pending).
NeedlesKane 17th June 2009, 02:50 Quote
im allready paying £45 a month for my 50meg connection. so frankly i dont give a damn if some sheep in the arse end of nowhere cant get it. you get what you pay for. if you want fibre optics then A) pay for the cable fitting yourself. B) move.
ev1lm1nd666 17th June 2009, 03:00 Quote
I get 20Mbit cable broadband and can easily upgrade to 50Mbit so why the hell would I want to pay 50p for a service 25 times slower? That's like paying for a Bugatti Veyron and getting a mini metro! And besides, everyone can get broadband, if you can get a lindline, you can get broadband, hasn't BT been saying that for years? It's just another tax, nothing will be done for years cos they'll spend the money on reports to find out why they're spending all the money on reports.....Shoot the bloody lot of em in government, couldn't get drunk in a pub any of em!
mp3manager 17th June 2009, 06:01 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by Mankz
50p per month ain't all that bad.
Well you can pay my share then....Ad infinitum. Then we'll see if it 'ain't all that bad'.

Once a tax is imposed...it is never repealed.
DriftCarl 17th June 2009, 08:29 Quote
its not broadband tax, its the first incarnation of a "broadband licence". It is just going to get easier and easier to implement this now. I understand TV licence, I get something out of it if I had a tv. but broadband tax, i already pay for 24MB broadband, I want something out of this 50p a month too.
Why do remote villages full of old people need 2mb? most of them dont even know how to turn on a computer.
512K was good enough for me back in the day, I think 512K is good enough for any basic broadband.
Da_Rude_Baboon 17th June 2009, 11:30 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by fodder
What is this about 'it shouldn't be a tax... should be paid for by the telecoms company/government...'

Is maths not taught these days? Do these people have magic money trees? Come on people, get real. Investing in this means money, money has to raised from somewhere. If the telecoms pay for it, they get the money by increasing margin on what they sell. IE the line to existing users. If the government pays for it, who do you think pays the government? We do, via our taxes.


WE PAY FOR IT!! one way or another, if it does happen we will pay for it. .

Quoted for the truth. As somebody who comes from a rural area i welcome this.
Flibblebot 17th June 2009, 11:52 Quote
Shouldn't BT's 21CN be all but complete in the timescales that the government are talking about? So in effect, we're paying £6 to ensure that BT carry on with what they're already doing? Great.

And as for calling 2Mbps "superfast broadband": go to the far East, look at their network speeds and pervasive wireless networks, and tell me what's superfast.

2Mbps shouldn't even be the minimum, let alone the target.
BLC 17th June 2009, 13:48 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by ev1lm1nd666
And besides, everyone can get broadband, if you can get a lindline, you can get broadband, hasn't BT been saying that for years?

Not quite - some of the multiplexing techniques used to extend the length of telephone lines (i.e. between the exchange and someone's house) make broadband impossible. This is without going into issues of local loop unbundling...
Quote:
Originally Posted by NeedlesKane
im allready paying £45 a month for my 50meg connection. so frankly i dont give a damn if some sheep in the arse end of nowhere cant get it. you get what you pay for. if you want fibre optics then A) pay for the cable fitting yourself. B) move.

I've never seen a more spurious and hypocritical statement.

Going to cough up a sh*tload to your ISP for all that lovely fibre they laid for you, are you? No, I thought not - I bet you wouldn't pay the costs to set up a satellite or wide-area WiFi connection either.
liratheal 17th June 2009, 17:02 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by Flibblebot
Shouldn't BT's 21CN be all but complete in the timescales that the government are talking about? So in effect, we're paying £6 to ensure that BT carry on with what they're already doing? Great.

And as for calling 2Mbps "superfast broadband": go to the far East, look at their network speeds and pervasive wireless networks, and tell me what's superfast.

2Mbps shouldn't even be the minimum, let alone the target.

You mean, like the SK expectation of gb/s connections in what amounts to the near future?

Oh, and 21CN is something different. This is about getting broadband to, well, the middle of sodall. 21CN was about connecting the exchanges together with fibre.
Flibblebot 17th June 2009, 18:04 Quote
Exactly. SK already has 100Mbps speeds, gigabit in the near-ish future. Makes Brown's 2Mbps target and promises to make the UK a digital leader look absurd. Seriously, who was their advisor for these plans, and how old is their information?

I thought BT's 21CN was to make all but the last mile fibre - i.e. fibre between exchanges and out to local roadside junction boxes?
NeedlesKane 17th June 2009, 20:23 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by BLC
Quote:
Originally Posted by ev1lm1nd666
And besides, everyone can get broadband, if you can get a lindline, you can get broadband, hasn't BT been saying that for years?

Not quite - some of the multiplexing techniques used to extend the length of telephone lines (i.e. between the exchange and someone's house) make broadband impossible. This is without going into issues of local loop unbundling...
Quote:
Originally Posted by NeedlesKane
im allready paying £45 a month for my 50meg connection. so frankly i dont give a damn if some sheep in the arse end of nowhere cant get it. you get what you pay for. if you want fibre optics then A) pay for the cable fitting yourself. B) move.

I've never seen a more spurious and hypocritical statement.

Going to cough up a sh*tload to your ISP for all that lovely fibre they laid for you, are you? No, I thought not - I bet you wouldn't pay the costs to set up a satellite or wide-area WiFi connection either.

and if i couldnt get 50mbit would i ask everyone broadband user in the uk to pay £6 so i could get it?
Phil Rhodes 17th June 2009, 20:40 Quote
Quote:
WE PAY FOR IT!! one way or another, if it does happen we will pay for it.

Yes, we pay for it one way or the other.

But better yet, with privatised industry, we get to pay for it one way and the other, and they still get to own it for free.

This counterargument is so fatuous it makes me weep, quite apart from the fact that things that should be services (such as rail and parcel post) obviously work better when nationalised. Services are not run as a profitmaking entity (or rather shouldn't be). Under the proposed scheme we get to give the telcos an absolutely unimaginable amount of money, and they get to make an unimaginable amount of money out of it. This is not what tax is for.
SMIFFYDUDE 18th June 2009, 05:48 Quote
Its not just people on farms who can't get decent broadband speeds, I live in Oldham and I can't even get 1Mbps. Downloading everything at between 50 and 60kbps is a major drag on my time. BBC iPlayer is more like a slideshow, and downloading content from steam takes hours and hours. £6 a year is not even noticable (assuming its used as intended) but they need to aim higher than a 2Mbps minimum.

@ Phil Rhodes, you clearly wear rose tinted spectacles if you think nationalised services worked better than privatised ones. They work as poorly as each other. It just replacing incompetents with greedy money grabbers.

BTW do they make digiboxes for radios cos I imagine a lot of people with expensive brushed aluminium analog HiFis are going to be pissed off if they have to replace it for a digital one in 2015.
BLC 23rd June 2009, 10:06 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by NeedlesKane
and if i couldnt get 50mbit would i ask everyone broadband user in the uk to pay £6 so i could get it?

I'm not agreeing with the "broadband tax" and, as others have already mentioned, 2mbit or even 50mbit shouldn't be the target. What's needed is a complete overhaul of the whole damn system. Our PSTN network is over 50 years old in some places, and we're expecting it to cope with today's broadband speeds? Countries like South Korea have a massive advantage in that their infrastructure is significantly newer than ours - they don't have the expense of overhauling the system.

I don't know what the solution is, but asking the users to pay for the fibre to be laid isn't the answer and neither is asking everyone in the UK to subsidise it. To be honest, even if the government don't levy this explicit monthly charge they'll probably still put together some kind of financial incentive. That money has to come from somewhere, so everyone will be shafted either way; at least this way we know why we're getting shafted and not paying "stealth" taxes elsewhere.
boggsi 24th June 2009, 18:04 Quote
I don't mind a broadband tax so long as it is never used to pay for anti-piracy policing.
naokaji 24th June 2009, 18:26 Quote
The worst part is that they plan to take until 2017 for speeds that are already considered crap today in other countries.

If filesizes keep increasing like they did up to now we will be looking at 1GB drivers by then.

Let us welcome the UK back to the middle age, just without the bonus of at least ruling half the world.
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