'Fastest broadband in EU' in election promise; Open source debated

'Fastest broadband in EU' in election promise; Open source debated

Summary: UK Elections 2010: 2Mbps broadband nationwide now, or 100mbps nationwide seven years later; and will governments go open-source?


The run up to the UK general election is spattered with political hot potatoes, debates and changes afoot, with a bust economy and a range of issues which are drowning the political sphere with up to the minute issues. As with the 2009 US elections, the technology field has been widely debated and is set to be a major swaying issue between the main political parties.

The current opposition, the Conservative Party, is pledging to enable Britain to become the fastest broadband country in Europe if they win the election, attempting to make available 100Mbps to most residences by 2017. They also, according to the BBC, in line with launching their digital and technology manifesto elements, want to create a "next generation of firms like Google and Microsoft".

Basic background information The UK has two main political parties (and a third, which represents a small but significant minority) as does the US, Labour and the Conservatives, which in some way can be compared to the Democrats and the Republicans loosely, respectively, as per their political persuasions. The elections will be held at some point before June 2010, and though the date has not been announced, many expect it to fall in line with previous election dates in or around the 5th/6th May 2010.

The current Labour government created the Digital Britain report which laid out detailed plans to roll out 2Mbps broadband to every house in the UK by 2010, which is currently on track. The report also delved into anti-piracy methods which would potentially cut off pirates and illegal file sharers and peer-to-peer users should they become repeat offenders, which even some government departments including MI5 opposed. The broadband roll out have been paid for by a 50p ($0.75) tax on every landline household bill per month to generate around £200 million ($300 million) a year towards the program.

This is a similar project to the US National Broadband Plan which pledges to ensure that all US citizens have the ability to access high-speed broadband. Tomorrow, the FCC will unveil a national broadband strategy which will promote national infrastructure needs through education, jobs, health, energy and security, "laying the groundwork for investing in America's future".

It is fair to say that the next-generation technologies, even though the vast majority of consumers have been engaged with them for years already, will be rolled out as part of Government 2.0 on both sides of the pond.

However, the Conservatives policy on wider access broadband to rural areas could see their major voting constituencies missing out on the fast Internet access. Though the Conservatives will scrap the 50p tax on landlines per month, which was implemented to fund countryside broadband, the major areas of Conservative voting power could suffer most from the decision to hold back on subsidising rural super-fast broadband.

There is little mention of open-source technology in the Conservative manifesto, whereas the present Labour government seems relatively keen to promote the idea. This, proven almost, by the release of a large amount of raw data by the government onto the web, spurred on by World Wide Web creator, Sir Tim Berners-Lee.

According to the Telegraph, it was down to current Prime Minister Gordon Brown, who put forward the honour of bestowing a knighthood upon former Microsoft chairman, Bill Gates.

So in a nutshell, Labour will continue to support Digital Britain in nationwide broadband access, while the Conservatives will scrap the 50p tax demolishing Labour's plan, but instead hold off a few more years to enable everyone across the country access to fibre-optic connections.

But with open-source being somewhat embraced by the government in schools, perhaps the Conservatives would be better off trying to firm up some plans to enable open access to free, open-source software within their potential future government.

[poll id="30"]

Or just leave a comment and have your say. This could turn into a healthy and exciting political conversation (yay!)

Topics: Government US, Broadband, Government, Networking, Open Source, Telcos

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  • I'm Canadian, and I'd like ...

    an open source government.

    I provide my own high speed internet access.

    But our current government is as opaque as it gets, so getting a more open and transparent government would be a much higher priority right now.
  • I'm an American...

    Who doesn't believe broadband is a "right" and would
    prefer the government drop the broadband plan and taxes
    entirely. I do not believe there is a need to build out
    infrastructure in areas with only one or two potential
    customers. People CHOSE to live there - let them face the
    consequences. Stop charging the rest of us for their
    • Re: I'm an American...

      I believe everybody should have broadband access regardless where they live. Aep528 wrote,
      "I do not believe there is a need to build out
      infrastructure in areas with only one or two potential customers. People CHOSE to live there - let them face the consequences. Stop charging the rest of us for their decision." Who says there are "only one or two potential customers" in any area in the US? Our population is always growing not decreasing. To pay taxes for this now will be much cheaper than doing a mad scramble later when these areas far exceed aep528's projection of "only one or two potential customers". This is going to happen regardless of what some may think now. To do it now before a population explosion makes more sense than being overwelmed and having to scramble to install infrastructure from scratch after.
      • I'm a US citizen...

        "American" covers people from two continents, Zack Whittaker.

        Anyways, as our population grows, people either live in cities where jobs are, or they live in rural areas where there are already more than two customers. So, there are plenty of spaces that don't need boradband if there really are two customers only.

        In the near future, wireless broadband will skip the landline broadband imstallations, if we can get the current players to move in that direction. Cable and Phone companies, however, I doubt will do this, so hopefully some competition will come from someone else (please, not more Google. I like them, but enough already).
    • Re: I'm an American

      quote "Who doesn't believe broadband is a "right" and would
      prefer the government drop the broadband plan and taxes
      entirely. I do not believe there is a need to build out
      infrastructure in areas with only one or two potential
      customers. People CHOSE to live there - let them face the
      consequences. Stop charging the rest of us for their

      Hey, idiot...I've lived in "rural" areas a large percentage of my lifetime, SO, to you and others with this attitude, I say this...
      Since most cables, pipelines, powerlines and other utility transferances traverse our rural areas, we'll no longer allow this trespass of our land, you can dig in your own backyard, but not my "back 40"! How many of the urban centers would still have "basic services" if it weren't for all the easments granted by "rural" landowners? I'll give you a hint...
      not very damn many!
    • What kind?

      Central American? Like, Mexico?

      South American? Like, Venezuela?

      North American? Like, Canada?

      Please be more specific!
      • Central America?

        Hey ididot, Mexico is in NORTH America!
        • Hey "ididot", Central America is a subset of North America.

          [b] [/b]
  • 'Fastest broadband in EU' in election promise

    As a Canadian, I too supply my own high speed internet access. I live in a city, and put up with the traffic, lack of open spaces, etc. If I lived in the country, I'd have the advantages of living in the country, but one of the disadvantages would be lack of affordable high speed internet access. Life is about choices people, so enough with the "they have it, so the gov. gotta give it to me" attitude. It's time the western world grew up, for gawds sake!
  • I an American....

    .....and believe the government can stay the hell out of my internet!
    • I an American!!!!!!

      You obviously returned the compliment by staying out of their schools
    • If the Grvernment wasn't in it

      The internet would not exist in this country. but
      we would be trying to catch up to the rest of the

      don;t forget about DARPA
    • Agreed. The government of Eurasia is crazy as well. GO AMERICA!!!!

      [b] [/b]
  • RE: 'Fastest broadband in EU' in election promise; Open source debated

    As with the recent announcememt of the same aspirational 100Mbos in the USA, this is all a load of absolute bollocks.

    100Mbbps will *only* happen where fibre/cable either exists, or can be delivered at low economic cost.

    People who live in rural or low density area's, where it would cast tens of ?bn's to deliver, just won't get it. There as dozen's of better things to spend the money on.

    The issue is worse in the USA, due to the vastly larger land mass. Wireless is also challenging, as in many places you barely get cell service, never mind 3G or WIMAX.

    Polotician 'hollow promises'.
  • I'm British...

    And I think the Government (whether Tory or Labour) should focus on sorting out our knackered economy and leave the 'Digital Britain' bill for now. I live in a typical mid-size town in a rural county and I have access to either up to 20Mbps ADSL or 50Mbps DSL connection.

    As a civil servant myself, I would welcome a move to open source. However, before we attempt such a sea change in IT, our existing IT teams should be trained in delivering what their paid to do!
  • I'm British and have 10Mbps broadband

    In Britain the problems of universal broadband are much
    less than in US as there is less distance between towns
    and the most distant parts of the countryside. In
    Scotland there are a few people it would be difficult to
    serve. As the government has ideas of organising access
    to government services on line it is keen to have
    broadband for everyone. On the other hand having been an
    engineer in government service I think the government is
    so incompetent at anything technical that it is unlikely
    they will ever get it properly organised.
    • I'm British and live in Scotland.

      I live in a remotish part of Scotland and don't have anything like 2Mbs broadband. I'm paying for 4Mbs! We were supposed to get high speed broadband but so far it's been limited to the cities. I pay the same taxes and phone bills as everyone else so why can't I have it as well?

      I can understand that population centres are going to be easier to cable/fibre optic but there should be a planned rollout for the whole country. I must agree that governments in the UK no matter what thier political hue are absolutely useless at anything technical. If we're lucky we might just get the "Amstrad" version of broadband!
  • RE: 'Fastest broadband in EU' in election promise; Open source debated

    100mbs would be great, but why not charge each user an extra .50 pence so anyone can download anything, this extra charge to be divided between the music industry and th film industry. I am sure that would suffice the loss they claim at present for supposedly illegal downloading!!
    • Because then they wouldn't be able to keep suing..

      ..which is much more profitable.
  • I'm an American...

    I'm an American. Most Americans who say the government should stay out of their lives are trying to commit some crime, which the government wants to stop them from committing. I really want an honest government, which is about the business of solving problems which markets can't seem to solve. Providing health care is one, and providing broadband is another. However, what we get is conservative government, which about the business of shuffling graft to large corporations. The only way to keep this from happening is to let people know what the government does, which is why I voted for open source government.