Britain 'to have best superfast broadband network in Europe'

Superfast superfast, I come in last...
Superfast superfast, I come in last...

Jeremy Hunt, the Culture Media and Sport Secretary, has outlined his vision of the future of the UK's technology sector, with the onus very much ramping up the UK's broadband's speeds to be the best in Europe.

Speaking at the Broadcast News Consortia, Hunt said that those who thought superfast broadband was just about speed were missing the point.

"Superfast broadband is not simply about doing the same things faster. It's about doing totally new things – creating a platform on which a whole generation of new businesses can thrive," he noted.

Adding a bit of number crunching, Hunt believes that superfast broadband could add £18 billion to the UK's economy and create 60,000 jobs – numbers he quoted from the Federation of Small Businesses.

As for who would benefit, Hunt pointed out what is going on in South Korea at the moment.

"The biggest driver of high speed broadband in Korea, where I was in January, is children getting help with their homework.

"Telemedicine is next – and already patients undergo heart surgery on the remote island of Guam supervised remotely by surgeons in Hawaii."

In the Digital Britain report released last year, it was noted that the whole of the UK will have access to 2Mbps broadband by 2012, a number Hunt still wants to achieve.

"The government supports the commitment to ensure a universal service level of 2Mbps as the very minimum that should be available. We will use a proportion of the underspend on digital switchover to fund this.

"Promoting a digitally-enabled Britain is one of the core purposes of the BBC, and this will bring services like the iPlayer within the reach of many more people."

Opening up the infrastructure

To make sure that the UK is ready for the broadband boost, three market testing projects have been announced, with Broadband Delivery UK in charge of these policies.

To make sure that the prices are lowered, Hunt is welcoming Ofcom's proposal to open up access to BT's ducts and telegraph poles but also wants other providers to offer their services.

"I would like to go further," Hunt explains. "If legislation is necessary to require other infrastructure providers to open up their assets as well, then – as announced in the Queen's speech – I am ready to bring it to the House as soon as parliamentary time can be found."

In his speech Hunt is clear about where he sees the UK broadband-wise in relation to Europe, stating: "Our goal is simple: within this parliament we want Britain to have the best superfast broadband network in Europe."

Via Press Gazette

Marc Chacksfield

Marc Chacksfield is the Editor In Chief, at DC Thomson. He started out life as a movie writer for numerous (now defunct) magazines and soon found himself online - editing a gaggle of gadget sites, including TechRadar, Digital Camera World and Tom's Guide UK. At Shortlist you'll find him mostly writing about movies and tech, so no change there then.