The government has been warned it will need to make drastic changes to its delayed broadband delivery plans if it is serious about closing the UK's digital divide.
Last week, culture secretary Jeremy Hunt announced that plans by the previous government to provide all areas of the UK with access to 2mps broadband by 2012 were to be delayed by three years because of lack of funding.
In an address to delegates at the Department for Culture, Media and Sport’s Broadband Industry Event, Hunt said: “I have looked at the provision the [previous] government had made to achieve this [universal broadband target] by 2012. And I’m afraid that I am not convinced that there is sufficient funding in place.
“So, while we will keep working towards that date, we have set ourselves a more realistic target of achieving universal 2 Mbps access within the lifetime of this parliament.”
David Palmer, senior product manager for networks and connectivity at managed service provider Star, said the government should think seriously about increasing the speed of the broadband it will be offering under the scheme.
“We are finding that 2mbps is too slow a speed for a lot of people now and in five years time it will be the equivalent of offering someone access to a dial-up connection today.”
The fact the project has been pushed back to 2015 provides the government with ample time to review the plans already in place, added Palmer.
“The whole point of the project is to help close the digital divide. But if people and business in rural areas are not able to get access to broadband speeds that are on a par with those in cities in five years time, it will not help.”
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