UK Set for Universal Broadband Access

16 January 2009

LONDON: Lord Stephen Carter, the UK's recently ennobled communications minister and former boss of Ofcom, is set to announce a plan to provide broadband access to every household in the country, as part of his review of the digital and communications industries, Digital Britain.

The "universal service commitment" would mean that broadband access at speeds of up to 2mbps would available across the country by 2012.

Carter declared that broadband was not a "niche service for the technologically keen", but “an enabling and transformatory service and therefore we have to look at how we universalise it."

Around 60% of UK households had broadband connections in 2008, but many rural areas, in particular, lack the telecoms infrastructure that would allow them to utilise such services.

Fixed-line and wireless network providers will be charged with changing this situation, while telecoms giant BT has also called for broadcasters and web content providers to pick up some of the expense.

Carter's final report is due for publication later this month, but the Department for Culture and the Department for Business says it is currently "still at the very early stages of drafting."

Data sourced from Financial Times; additional content by WARC staff