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Tuesday, 23 March 2010 02:52

Industry responds to Gordon Brown's super-fast Brit broadband plan


So every Brit will get a web page of their own, and web access by way of 'super-fast' broadband in the next few years according to PM Gordon Brown. Industry insiders remain to be convinced...

UK Prime Minister Gordon Brown has announced Labour plans which would see every home in the UK provided with high-speed web access; an "electricity of the digital age" according to Brown which "must be for all" and "not just for some".

Details of the funding process to enable such a broadband for all policy is expected to emerge within the Budget on Wednesday, driven by the job creation of around a quarter of a million jobs by no later than 2020 and savings for the public service purse measuring in the billions of pounds sterling.

Part of the savings are expected to come from the closure of job centres and benefit offices amongst others as every UK citizen gets a web page of their own to access government and public sector services instead within the next four years.

Part of the funding is expected to take the shape of a £6 per year British broadband tax to be levied upon every telephone landline in the country. All of which is intended to make the UK the world leader in the digital economy by 2020, well good luck with that one as the Brits have some catching up to do when you compare them with the likes of Japan or South Korea.

Brown did not mention exactly how super-fast broadband should be defined, but most experts would seem to agree that anything between 50 and 100Mbps would hit the mark. Anything other than previous government broadband benchmarks in fact.

One thing that has definately happened super-fast is the industry response to the announcements, which you can read on the next page of this story.

Already we have heard from Tristan Wilkinson, Director for Public Sector, EMEA at Intel who said that it "marks a pivotal moment in the way Government is delivered across the UK".

Wilkinson also adds that "Intel welcomes this move to bring clarity and ownership into one place through the creation of the Digital Public Services Unit" calling it "a significant and potentially world-leading initiative".

Meanwhile, Colin Rowland, Senior VP EMEA Operations at online transactional management specialists OpTier warns that it will be "crucial for the government to ensure that the infrastructure and IT systems are up to task and able to cope with the massive surge in online usage that a system used by 60 million people could cause".

Rowlands goes on to suggest that online technology can only save the government millions of pounds "if supported by the correct level of investment in the background technology to underpin and support its plans".

Finally, Des Speed, CEO of Government to Citizen (G2C) technology experts Lagan Technologies cautions that while it welcomes the the delivery of better online services to UK citizens it is important to note that "individual web pages, whilst eye-catching, are not a panacea, unless they form part of a more coherent service management and delivery strategy".

Speed says that a two-dimensional page needs to be part of effective three-dimensional service and warns that there are risks of "bottlenecks and false expectations" that can be created and suggests that "any government to citizen implementation must be designed with the benefits in mind before any decision is made about the tools".

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