The idea of 'broadband for all' is not a new one, the Government's Digital Britain Report was published in June 2009 and recommended providing high speeds for all. As I wrote back in July "They believe that broadband is essential for everyone from school children to big business in order to strengthen the economy and reduce poverty. Children from homes without an internet connection tend to get, on average, lower grades. Businesses need fast connections in order to compete with the global market."
If Labour win the next election they plan to create a 'broadband tax' in order to raise money to improve the country's broadband infrastructure. The tax, which has be opposed by the Tories, will take the form of a 50p per month levy on landlines. The PM expects this tax to raise between £175m and £200m per year. Given the easy availability of contract SIMs this could be yet another nail in the coffin of fixed line services.
The Government also plans to move public services online giving each person in the UK a personal webpage from which they will apply for Passports, submit tax claims and claim housing benefit etc. This plan would save the government millions of pounds although it would also result in lost jobs and potential lack of data security.
"Faster broadband speeds will bring new, cheaper, more personalised and more effective public services to people. It will bring games and entertainment options with new levels of sophistication. So one vision for Digital Britain would create two nations: one digitally privileged, one digitally deprived. And this will mean a massive penalty in economic development to those who are denied access because of a failure of government to rise to the challenge where markets fail. The alternative is our vision: ensuring, not simply hoping for, universal coverage."
It is not yet clear how Mr Brown intends to provide 'broadband for all'. Previous plans have included expanding mobile broadband coverage to include deprived rural areas, given the speeds expected to be promised mobile broadband alone would not be enough.