The Government yesterday released its interim Digital Britain report. No surprises on the content of the Green Paper– broadband for all, improving how television content is distributed online and cracking down on illegal file sharing. The disappointing aspect about the interim report is that for a fast changing industry its recommendations are already outdated, so working to get every household on a minimum 2Mbs line by 2012 will be like having a 56Kbs dial-up account today.
The report ignores the fact that bandwidth is already running out in Britain, especially as the BBC’s iPlayer continues to prove that people want to watch television (for live or recorded content) online. Other broadcasters such as ITV and Channel 4 are readying themselves for the launch of their own content online, a partnership that also includes the BBC.
Recent figures, which I put in my last post on Digital Britain, confirm that shoppers are shunning the high-street for the improved prices that the net offers.
Lord Carter may say that while 2Mbs is the minimum speed that he wants everybody to have, speeds of up to 100Mbs will be available. Good point, but high speeds will be there at a cost, a substantial cost, which will put consumers and businesses off from these packages. Not just that, but he leaves the option open for an indirect tax on net users to counter online copyright piracy.
The Government said that it wanted to spend its way out of the current recession by investing in public sector development – new schools, hospitals, etc. What it should have done through this interim report is commit itself to upgrading Britain’s bandwidth. Doing this would send a clear signal to business that the internet can be used as a further channel through which it can do business. It would also enhance the creativity that makes Britain a leader worldwide in the media, communications and creative industries.
I ask the question, now that we know where the Government wants Britain to be in 2012, where will Asia Pacific and the rest of Europe be?
This report wants a lot, but makes no recommendation on how these 'wants' should be met. It offers no strategy and no solution. It is a typical politcal report with no direction or ambition. Exactly what you would expect.