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UK Government To Back Broadband-For-All 192

Barence writes to mention that the UK government is throwing their weight behind a broadband-for-all initiative with an initial round of £250 million in funding. Using money left over from the digital television switch, the initiative aims to have a 2Mbit/sec broadband connection or better in every home by 2012. "Analysts welcomed the proposals, but say there are still many details to be hammered out: 'The Chancellor... needs to consider how to remove the barriers that prevent the people who cannot afford broadband to get connected. They need to ensure that competition in the market remains fair and consumers are given choice rather than one or two providers.'"
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UK Government To Back Broadband-For-All

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  • Bloody hell! (Score:4, Insightful)

    by KingAlanI ( 1270538 ) on Friday April 24, 2009 @02:13PM (#27704677) Homepage Journal

    Five bucks...er, five pounds, that this will be filtered to high heck...

    • Your new universal desktop picture:
      http://cache.gizmodo.com/assets/resources/2008/05/bigbrother.jpg [gizmodo.com]

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by 5KVGhost ( 208137 )

      It'll likely be filtered, monitored, and throttled. More so as time goes on. And since the government operates the service, subsidizes its use, and owns the infrastructure there will be little incentive for less restrictive, privately owned providers to compete, even if they're allowed to do so.

      But one thing I've learned from reading Slashdot is that when "Free as in speech" meets "Free as in beer", "speech" usually loses. Even when the government is picking your pocket to pay the bar tab.

      As in, giving the

      • Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd has announced that the Australian government will build a new $43 billion national broadband network [today.com], connecting 90% of homes to 100-megabit fibre internet. "We believe that fast broadband is absolutely essential for our nation's future", he said.

        "Telstra has raised issues with the amount of bandwidth usage this will produce, given we're still hooked to America by tin cans and string, but our Great Firewall of Australia Internet filtering project should keep usage down

    • Five bucks...er, five pounds, that this will be filtered to high heck...

      Probably more than you know. If broadband comes to be seen a government-delivered service, then the government will reason that they own it, and can do whatever they please with it... including ration it, restrict it, and even censor it.

  • by Shakrai ( 717556 ) on Friday April 24, 2009 @02:15PM (#27704701) Journal

    2000 called. They want their broadband back......

    • Re:2mbits? woo-hoo! (Score:5, Interesting)

      by drinkypoo ( 153816 ) <martin.espinoza@gmail.com> on Friday April 24, 2009 @02:23PM (#27704811) Homepage Journal

      I live in the boonies of the USA and my connection peaks just over 1 Mbps (I have a WiFi connection to a tower on the local volcano. Not a typo.) 2 Mbps would make me dizzy with joy, especially since at peak times I sometimes get under 500kbps. A lot of people out there are still using a modem, like me until a few months ago.

      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        I live in the boonies of the US and get 300 kbps, take that! Lets play who has the slowest internet.

      • Yeah, and there are still people stuck on dial-up. 2Mbps to every home wouldn't be nothing.

        Still, it seems like 2Mbps in 2012 should be a bit behind the times. In the near future, being stuck on DSL should be like being stuck on dial-up now. Most of us should have 10Mbps symmetrical connections (or better). I know, someone is going to say that's ridiculous, but I don't think it is.

      • I downgraded from standard Comcast (7 Mbps) to their slowest offering of 756 kbps (0.756 Mbps) just to save money. It isn't so bad! Vonage works fine, youtube works fine, flash games (my kids play all the time) work fine. An ISO or anything larger does take some planning or patience however. I will want to upgrade when/if streaming video displaces my PVR though.
      • I live in a small town in Iowa, and until recently, I had 100 mbit fiber, for $65/mo.

        Granted, it's capped at 20 gigs/mo, with 50 cents/gig overage. But still, I find it amazing that there are places in this country where your choice is satellite, dialup, or cell.

        Speaking of which: Does anyone know where I can get better Internet? [slashdot.org]

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by DesScorp ( 410532 )

        I live in the boonies of the USA and my connection peaks just over 1 Mbps (I have a WiFi connection to a tower on the local volcano. Not a typo.) .

        The problem isn't that you can't get broadband in the boonies. Anyone can. The problem is that most of the time, that option is via satellite. Once you get past the initial hardware expense, monthly service for satellite tv and Internet packages are comparable to cable packages. The problem is the damn latency. Satellite is fine for downloading files and surfing. But try playing FPS's on one.

        • The real problem is the absurdly low monthly transfer cap. With Hughesnet it's like 9GB/mo, or at least it was last I looked. My ISP gives me 30GB/mo at 512kbps-1Mbps for $50 and I can buy another account if I need to do more downloading, on the same hardware. Allegedly, anyway. I consider myself particularly blessed. I just hope my ISP [airlinkweb.com] stays in business :(

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by MoldySpore ( 1280634 )

      While 2MBit/s might sounds slow to those of us that have turbo connections and get upwards of 10Mbit/s, this is actually a decent number for an initiative such as this.

      2 MBit/s is actually a very attainable number for a cheap internet solution to get EVERYONE access to that speed. And while some may scoff at it being slow, 2 Mbit (around 250 KB/s down) is still about 5x faster than dialup. And it would be an always-on connection, something dial-up is not.

      Also, for the UK to fund an initiative like this, it

      • by Shakrai ( 717556 ) on Friday April 24, 2009 @02:38PM (#27704955) Journal

        this is actually a decent number for an initiative such as this.

        No it's not, because by the time they are done spending money at the rate the Government typically spends it they could have bought a fiber to the doorstep system for every man, woman and child in the UK. Why would you spend a pile of money to build a system that's obsolete as soon as you turn it up?

        • by the time they are done spending money at the rate the Government typically spends it they could have bought a fiber to the doorstep system for every man, woman and child in the UK.

          Who could have? Why haven't they? Speculating about what it seems like it ought to cost is different than doing it.

        • Physical fibre is cheap - cheaper than copper. The expensive part is the labour of installing it, digging trenches and such.

          So why would you waste money on installing 2Mb/s connections to people who currently have nothing, when you could install 100Mb/s connections or faster for the same cost?

      • 2 Mbit (around 250 KB/s down) is still about 5x faster than dialup

        V90 was 56Kbit down, 33Kbit up (rarely achievable) - not KByte. 2Mbit down, 250kbit up is far better than 5x faster (particularly as the majority of traffic for the average user is down).

        • Let me do the maths for you...

          Dialup is rated at 56kbps.
          This broadband is 2Mbit, or about 2000kbps

          2000 / 56 = 35.7

          That means this initiative is 35.7 times better than dial-up. Now I'm no expert, but I'm pretty sure that anyone on dialup RIGHT NOW would be glad of such speeds.

      • You might want to check your math though. Most dialup I've seen rarely breaks 56Kbps. If they are planning on 2Mbps, then that's an increase of roughly 40 times, not 5. The jump from dialup to 2Mbps, is roughly equivalent to going from a relatively slow 2Mbps broadband connection to a 100Mbps LAN connection.

      • if you compare 2mbps to 28.8kbps (probably a more realistic number, since lots of the people forced to use dial up are unable to get DSL because the copper is bad) the ratio comes out nearer to 70x faster (overall).
      • The problem is, this will end up being universal. Just think about all of the crappy services that governments provide like mail delivery. Here in the USA, Fed-Ex, UPS and DHL all provide a much better experience then using the USPS, but not by much. How much more will ISPs fail to innovate because they only now have a niche market? Whenever the widest used alternative is crappy, you only have to beat it by a bit to appear "competitive" and when the crappy service is government run, you can bet it will be c
    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by Celarnor ( 835542 )
      I wish I could get 2Mbps where I live. That would double what I can get here.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by BlueParrot ( 965239 )

      I guess it depends on whether they are targeting 2mbit as in actually 2mbit or "2 mbit UNLIMITED at 1:1000 contention with 4gb /month cap". If it actually ends up averaging 2mbit and not 500kbps then it's not so bad.

    • What, you thought the British government was gifting its people with free broadband because it liked and trusted them?!

    • That's at least 2Mb/s everywhere in the UK. There are still some rural areas, particularly in Scotland, where the only 'high-speed' Internet access you can get is ISDN, at 128Kb/s (for two channels), charged per minute and very expensive. My mother can currently only get 1Mb/s from her ADSL connection in rural England due to her distance from the exchange, and I can get about that from my phone (UMTS) when I visit her if I put it in the right spot in the corner of the room (although with slightly higher l

  • Only 2Mbit (Score:3, Interesting)

    by telchine ( 719345 ) * on Friday April 24, 2009 @02:15PM (#27704713)

    I guess it's a start, so they should be congratulated on that.

    However 2Mbit seems remarkably slow. Even now, I'd find it too slow to bear. By 2012, in 3 years time, I'd imagine it will seem even more obsolete as services change to take advantage of higher bandwidth.

    I have 10Mbit at home and that's about the lowest I can bear. I will upgrade to 50Mbit soon.

    • by RingDev ( 879105 ) on Friday April 24, 2009 @02:19PM (#27704745) Homepage Journal

      I'm still at 1.5Mb you insensitive clod!


    • by mc1138 ( 718275 )
      Hopefully this will at least provide a backbone capable of being upgrading in higher traffic areas. 2Mbit might seem like a little, but to implement for an entire country who I'm sure has a fair amount of people not connected at all is a huge undertaking.
    • It's not really that bad as long as it's REALLY 2 MBit and not 2 MBit kinda sorta every other Thursday at 3 AM and most of the time it's really no faster than 56 KBps.
    • Having an always on connection that is fast enough to do reasonable software updates for a fair price would be the main thing. Always on lets people use the internet in an entirely different way than modem dial in. This kind of service can make sure that residents can keep their setup at home secure. And it helps people to start using private and government internet services.

      2Mbit is plenty for such use. Unless Microsoft is going to ask people to download even more than the 1.5 GB update once you buy a comp

    • by rob1980 ( 941751 )
      Beggars can't be choosers. 2 meg is an upgrade for a lot of folks.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      However 2Mbit seems remarkably slow.

      Its a lot faster than what the US has committed to making universally available.

    • Re:Only 2Mbit (Score:4, Insightful)

      by RiotingPacifist ( 1228016 ) on Friday April 24, 2009 @03:42PM (#27705753)

      2Mb is slow for what? you can stream video/audio, browse the web, the basic connectivity you 'need' in this day and age (wikipedia for kids, Google maps for services, etc)

  • I wonder if there will still be a a market for people who wish for non-government ISP's to only have the government filter their packets rather than send their data down pipes, routers, and infrastructure owned and operated by the government. I wonder how many orders of magnitude easier it will be to do that kind of in-depth sniffing on government pipes than on private pipes?
  • Most likely the UK will pass a three strikes law in the near future, meaning the broadband will be for all except those who are accused three times by the recording industry of file sharing, with no warnings or evidence required.

  • Utility (Score:5, Interesting)

    by superpaladin ( 1521599 ) on Friday April 24, 2009 @02:26PM (#27704839)
    Internet is more and more a utility. People can't live without it, so I think the governament stepping in and offering free/cheap internet access for those who can't afford it is only fair. Plus they can pass it as a education initiative.
    • Well, if you think it's fair, why does the government have to pay for it out of tax revenues? Why don't you voluntarily give up some of your money to the "internet for the poor" charity? Oh, I see... it's only fair when other people have to pay for it. And it's even more fair when they have no say in the matter.

    • by Eil ( 82413 )

      Plus they can pass it as a surveillance initiative.

      Fixed that for ya.

  • Not only will you have broadband, but Phorm will even track what websites you visit in order to serve adverts that are relevant to you, and the goverment will be monitoring your connection to make sure you don't inadvertently access any violent pornography and that no terrorists try to indoctrinate you. Sign me up!

  • Vendetta (Score:5, Funny)

    by torvik ( 1518775 ) on Friday April 24, 2009 @02:33PM (#27704905)
    This is just so V can stream to every screen in London with minimal buffering.
  • by DarthVain ( 724186 ) on Friday April 24, 2009 @02:42PM (#27705005)

    You may want to talk to your retarded little brother USA, and see how that worked out for them.

    Gov'ner: Here's 250$ million, Broadband for all, yea!
    Telcos: Yea!
    Pleabs: Yea!
    Gov'ner: Where is our Broadband?
    Telcos: What broadband?
    Gov'ner: Where is our money?
    Telcos: What money?
    Gov'ner: *shrugs*
    Pleabs: :(

  • so now they can spy inside!

  • Is it the government or the taxpayers who are paying for it?

  • So of course it is dead easy to turn around in 2012 and claim that yet another published target has been met.

    I've had 20 mbit down / 1 mbit up for 50 quid a month for nearly 2 years now.

    • And I've had 5Kbps down/3Kbps up for eleven years (dial-up-in-the-boonies-surrounded-by-trees-so-$75/month-satellite-is-the-only-"high-speed"-option, anyone?). I'd kill for a steady 512kbps connection. However, because Bell sucks (oh, did I mention that I'm in Canada, so I can't even look forward to this?), the only way I'm ever going to get any better is if the government somehow forces it to be made available.

      Come to think of it, I'm technically not even that far out in the boonies: I'm only about an hour

  • ...is this really needed at a time when we should be making real an effort to cut spending.

    I love the idea, but we need to prioritize a little, could this 250m be better spent elsewhere? Or not at all?

    • spending 250 million will get a fair few people gainfully employed and spending that money. That money spent will be spent again paying the wages of the staff who provided the services used by those people and spent again paying the staff who... now without that money going in you have a bunch of unemployed people with minimal incomes spending as little as possible (actually in reality as much as they have) meaning they now don't support the local economy so well, so local services get cut back and more peo

  • Looks like they are learning from the US' mistakes.

    They need to ensure that competition in the market remains fair and consumers are given choice rather than one or two providers.

    (emphasis mine)

  • 2mb/s is horrible. At the rate they are planning 4G will be available and considerably faster than this broadband for all, which is sure to be monitored feverishly by the government.

  • by Wonderkid ( 541329 ) on Friday April 24, 2009 @04:08PM (#27706019) Homepage
    Having been on Virgin's fibre broadband at 20Mbits (yup, 20) for 6 months, while it is indeed very fast and so far, reliable, it is NOT fast enough. As soon as another occupant of the house beginds to watch an HD stream or download something, it slows down - sometimes even grinding to a halt altogether during busy evenings. Furthermore, with the advent of widespread cloud computing, considerable strain is going to be put on the Internet as a whole. Already, using Google Docs on anything but the fastest connection is impossible, with it timing out if the connection slows down too much. (Not Google's fault.) For the sake of the economy, like the autobahns, highways and motorways of the past, the governments of today (Singapore has already done this) needs to build a super/mega/ultra/wikkedly fast national network of at least 40Mbits (yes, 40) with a 5Mbit or more downlink to make uploading content and teleconferencing practical. The ideal way to achieve this without digging up half the planet to lay fibre to the home will be to use 4G LTE wireless technology. We MUST invest now!
  • by ascari ( 1400977 ) on Friday April 24, 2009 @04:21PM (#27706183)
    I find the term "broad band" offensive. I much prefer the phrase "all female orchestra", but I agree that everybody should have access to one. What do you mean off topic?
  • I'm sure they won't block the URLs of activist groups who criticize the government.

    http://www.campaignforliberty.com *enter*

    500 server error

  • First they are connecting telescopes with fiber, now they are about to give away broadband!?! See, this tiny little island can do all that while rich companies can't get cable to my neighborhood. Next thing you know that island country will be all "we are an empire" and stuff, while us US folk slip into 3rd world status.

Radioactive cats have 18 half-lives.