Blair promises broadband for every school

e-Summit: The prime minister, Tony Blair, has guaranteed that more than £1bn will be spent bringing high-speed Internet access to Britain's public sector

The British government will pay for a broadband connection for every primary and secondary school in the UK, Tony Blair announced on Tuesday.

Speaking at the e-Summit in London on Tuesday, the prime minister explained that the initiative is part of a major project to bring high-speed Internet access to the UK's public sector, across the education, health and criminal justice sectors.

"As part of the spending review settlement, a total of more than £1bn will be invested in networking our public services. Not only for every primary and secondary school, but broadband connectivity for every GP surgery, every hospital and every Primary Care Trust in the UK," said Blair.

Blair warned that too many of Britain's public services live in the technological "dark ages", with too few school teachers using email, and a lack of IT compatibility between different parts of the criminal justice system.

Britain's broadband divide will have to be addressed if today's target is to be met. It is estimated that around one-third of Britain's schools cannot currently get an affordable broadband connection because they are not located within the broadband networks of BT, ntl, Telewest or another telecoms operator.

A government spokesman indicated that a range of solutions -- from providing a satellite connection to ADSL-enabling the local telephone exchange -- would be considered. "There will certainly be different solutions for different schools," he said.

The prime minister also announced that a total of £6bn will be invested in information and communication technologies over the coming years.

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