Alistair Darling has used his budget speech to back plans for a universal broadband service obligation, calling for accessible broadband in every area of the UK. Describing it as being ‘vital’ to the country’s digital progression, Darling voiced support for the proposal which Lord Carter first put forward in January this year.
There are currently 1.5 million homes in the UK without access to broadband, but should the new plans go ahead it would mean nearly every household could enjoy the service at 2mbs, with only those in the most remote regions of the country still being out of reach.
Mr Darling explained that the £250 million plan will be paid for using left-over funds from the digital switchover, which will take place in 2012. The government also announced plans to trial next generation broadband in South Yorkshire, a project which will cost £100 million and see 1.2million residents receive access to the new service for a limited time.
Although residents in eligible areas may welcome the scheme, the trial also highlights a dramatic difference in future broadband speeds. Next generation broadband could offer speeds of up to 40mbs; a very different standard of service to the 2mbs broadband being pushed as part of the obligation service plan.