The interim report by Stephen Carter has, as previously reported, promoted universal broadband at video speeds. This is a no brainer. But Carter is erudite in this field and although I disagree with some of his contentions:
By 2012 £1 in every £5 of all new commerce in this country will be online. I suspect if you include the City and utility dealing, this figure is closer to 50% already.
Over the last ten years the UK has been consistently closing its historic productivity gap with the other leading European economies, based largely on our take-up and adoption of digital technology. We have a decent technical infrastructure and have consistently been ahead of most European countries. The productivity gap is belied by the strength of the pound over the past decade.
But, beyond this nit picking, the proposals in this report are truly heartening.
These are the stated aims, this is Carter's manifesto:
Digital Britain: Five objectives
Upgrading and modernising our digital networks – wired, wireless and broadcast – so that Britain has an infrastructure that enables it to remain globally competitive in the digital world;
A dynamic investment climate for UK digital content, applications and services, that makes the UK an attractive place for both domestic and inward investment in our digital economy;
UK content for UK users: content of quality and scale that serves the interests, experiences and needs of all UK citizens; in particular impartial news, comment and analysis;
Fairness and access for all: universal availability coupled with the skills and digital literacy to enable near-universal participation in the digital economy and digital society; and
Developing the infrastructure, skills and take-up to enable the widespread online delivery of public services and business interface with Government.
This may sound like rhetoric and common sense, but it comes from the heart of Government. So, let's hope it's adopted and followed through.
The internet is a cross between a utility - e.g. water or electricity, and a service right - e.g. education. It's good to see it seen in this light by the people who count...