“Access to the internet shouldn’t be a luxury, it should be a right – absolutely fundamental to life in 21st Century Britain.”
The headline-grabbing announcement by David Cameron is welcome but isn’t the first time the UK government has stated their intentions to make superfast broadband available to everyone. Though David Cameron’s statement clearly steps up from previous rhetoric.
In 2012, a pledge was made by then-Culture Secretary Jeremy Hunt that the UK would have “the fastest broadband of any major European country” by 2015. The definition given was broadband service offering a download speed of greater than 24Mbps (megabytes per second). The communications regulator Ofcom currently defines “fast broadband” as 30Mbps.
This latest pledge is for all residential homes and business throughout the UK to have access to “fast broadband” by 2020. He announced the introduction of a “universal service obligation” giving all UK residents a ‘legal right’ to an “affordable” connection.
The emphasis David Cameron and the UK government are placing on broadband internet connection promotes the service to that of other basic utilities such as water and electricity. However, the headline grabbing statement suggests a broadband connection speed of at least 10Mbps, no matter where in the country they live or work. While the focus on increasing superfast broadband is a welcome one, this definition continues to fall well short of the ‘official’ definition used by Ofcom.
David Cameron, who is expected to confirm more details this week, added:
“Just as our forebears effectively brought gas, electricity and water to all, we’re going to bring fast broadband to every home and business that wants it.”
He went on to say:
“We’re getting Britain – all of Britain – online, and on the way to becoming the most prosperous economy in the whole of Europe.”
According to statistics, more than 83% of homes and businesses in Britain currently have access to a superfast broadband connection of 24Mbps – with that number set to rise to 95% by 2017.
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