updated 08:40 am EDT, Mon August 15, 2011
UK plans nationwide 2Mbps Internet in four years
The UK is taking action this week on its promises of high-speed Internet access for the whole country by detailing plans to shift resources to its Internet plans. Culture secretary Jeremy Hunt will be moving £530 million ($864 million) previously devoted to the BBC to get the promised 2Mbps Internet access to all 25 million homes in the country within the next four years. About 90 percent of those would get over 24Mbps.
The scope would include 40 areas and extend to Northern Ireland as well as the mainland. About £300 million ($489 million) would also be set aside after the 2015 deadline to continue development.
BT is hoping to keep its lead in wired Internet intact and, in places where it gets the winning bid on contracts to roll out Internet access, will equal the government funds with a spend of its own. Some districts, such as Cornwall and Northern Ireland, are already promising their own local funding and will let the main UK government focus on underserved areas like Wales and northern England.
The growth might hurt companies like BSkyB, TalkTalk, or Virgin, which don't have the same reach as BT. Government rollouts may require that providers share networks where it's too costly to have all of them roll out independent networks.
The deal is meant to drive an economic boost for the country and to prevent the decline of rural areas. As part of the Digital Britain initiative, it should help get farmers and other remote workers on an equal footing and get many middling areas on faster access that gives them the same quality as in major urban areas.