Debate

Digital Britain – who pays?

Occasional rant from the Hedon Blog about all things digital:

digital-britain-logo1

The Digital Britain Summit took place last Friday 17 April 2009 at the British Library. This conference was designed to discuss the emerging ‘digital revolution’ and to ensure that Britain is at the front of technological innovation. A key aim is to secure universal broadband access for all.

As the Digital Britain Forum blog reveals, the one day event could be followed online in a variety of ways i.e. Twitter updates, streaming video and photos on Flickr.

But how many people actually did follow the day’s proceedings? I suspect, for a significant majority of the population, the discussion has gone completely over their heads with ‘Twitter’ and ‘Flickr’ being largely unknown, because – whether you have a broadband connection or not – digital exclusion is currently the norm!

Unfortunately, I was doing much more mundane things on Friday and so missed the news about the event. I will search through the material, however, because I have been a long-time supporter of bringing the benefits of digital technology to ‘ordinary’ Joe and Joesephine public – not just as beneficiaries but as participants in the digital revolution.

However, one question that I feel has remained unanswered in all the geek-world hype, particularly in regard to super-fast broadband access for all: Who will pay for it?

South Korea is often cited by those who extol the virtues of super fast broadband – apparently they have brought 100mb speeds to most of the population (whether they want it or not – equal opportunity to benefit is guaranteed) – however, that nation benefited from Government intervention to make that happen. Unfortunately there is no sign from Friday’s conference that the ‘credit crunched’ UK Government is going to embark upon such massive national public investment.

So who will lead Britain into the ‘super’ digital age? BT (British Telecom)? Virgin Media? More to the point – which of these giants is willing to invest in the infrastructure to make it happen?

We also have a microsm of national events locally with the addition of ‘local player’ Kingston Communications (Karoo Broadband).

As I stated earlier… a key question remains unanswered: Who will pay to bring new fibre-to-the-home super-fast broadband whether on a national level, or here locally in the East Riding?

Perhaps the solution is bigger than the individual different commercial and political interests. We need to come to a community consensus about such things!? And perhaps this is the case locally too!?

Local consensus and partnership to achieve the common good? Hmm… sounds pretty radical to me!!

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