The government has outlined plans to ensure every home has a high-speed broadband connection by 2012, as part of plans to boost the UK digital economy.

The interim Digital Britain report focuses on boosting the digital and communications industries, which are said to contribute more than £50bn a year to the UK economy.

Additionally, the report stresses the importance of universal high-speed broadband to boost the take-up of electronic public services.

The interim report by communications minister Lord Carter calls for everyone in the UK to get access to a broadband speed of at least 2 megabits per second (Mbps) by 2012.

Currently, telecoms firms are only obliged to provide lines that can handle 28.8kbps, which is not enough for telehealth applications, which the report says require 512 kbps. At 2Mbps, lines will be capable of handling much more video and sites that offer greater interactivity.

The full report and proposals will be unveiled in summer 2009. By then, the government says it will know whether internet service providers (ISPs) can be relied on to build next generation networks themselves, or if government help will be needed.

The government is also planning projects to help businesses and individuals to take advantage of new broadband services. The report promises a national strategy for "media literacy."

The importance of building the digital economy was reinforced by the Prime Minister, who was quoted by the BBC as saying: "We know that every aspect of our lives in local communities – every school, every hospital, every workplace and even every home – will be dependent on the services that the digital network provides."


Digital Britain (PDF)