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Michael Phillips, product director of comments:

Universal Service Broadband Commitment:

2Mb Commitment:
“A 2Mb commitment is a pretty underwhelming aspiration given the rest of Europe already experiences over 6Mb as an average*. If this is a headline speed then experience would indicate that many recipients will actually get only a fraction of this, as headline speeds presently fluctuate dependent on levels of usage and how far users are from junction points.”

Not spots mobile solution:
“The Government is proposing a carrot of offering indefinite 3G licences to mobile operators in a bid to stimulate investment to patch over rural/outlying not-spots. The investment from the operators will be significant so the success of this will ultimately hinge on the operators’ ability to recoup outlay in any reasonable timescale given the population density in many of theses areas. The fall back option is to use satellite broadband infill which could be prohibitively expensive to subsidise on a per household basis.”

“The Government’s target to hit UK-wide 2Mb broadband coverage for all by 2012 is a very tall order. Updating and implementing the necessary mobile and fixed line infrastructure in 3 years will require a massive coordinated effort and a clearer route to bolstering the £200m from direct public funding to be achievable.”

Next Generation Final Third project:

£6 per annum levy:
“It’s a bold move to tax all cable and copper lines by 50p per month to fund the infrastructure for superfast services to the estimated third of the population that will be left behind by the ISPs. This could potentially deliver some £175m a year towards the project. Unsurprisingly, the report has left any timescales for implementation – and the term of the proposed levy – frustratingly vague.”

Developing the nation’s digital skills:

“Almost half of the 30% of adults that don’t have internet access aren’t interested. One has to question the value in spending time and resources in ‘educating’ – or converting - those who are simply disinterested in the internet. Resources might be better spent on ensuring that free public access is more widely available in schools and libraries with educational support systems for those who are interested. That said, it is encouraging to see that “digital” will be included within the future school curriculum, ensuring that future generations have the skills and knowledge required to make the most of any broadband services.”

* Source: Information Technology and Innovation Foundation; 2008 ITIF Broadband Rankings

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