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Digital Britain report: Broadband for all by 2012

LONDON - In its Digital Britain report issued today the Government has set out its aim to develop a universal broadband service by 2012, which it called vital for Britain, one that offers nationwide broadband speeds of up to 2mb per second and includes wireless coverage.

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In the Digital Britain interim report, the Government stressed the importance of ensuring "that being digital is within the grasp of everyone".

Subject to further analysis, the government believes that a speed of 2mb per second is the most realistic option for a universal service, when factoring in costs, capability and the connection of the absolute number of homes. 

The Government intends to develop detailed proposals for the design and operation of a new, more broadly-based scheme to fund the Universal Service Commitment, including who should contribute and its governance and accountability structures. 

It plans to encourage the development of public service champions of universal take up and intends to appoint a digital inclusion champion and expert taskforce to drive the Government's work on digital inclusion. 

It is intended that the champion "will provide a clear channel of communication between central and local government, industry, third and public sectors, and the client group, to ensure all available expertise and resource is harnessed in pursuit of a shared understanding of digital inclusion".

The BBC will be invited to play a leading role, through marketing, cross-promotion and provision of content, to drive the public's interest in taking up broadband. 

As part of the Government's plans, it intends to ensure that public services online are designed for ease of use, encouraging a shift to online channels in delivery and service support. 

The report, released by the Department of Culture, Media and Sport, states: "We must ensure that being digital is within the grasp of everyone. 

"If we do not, we risk leaving significant parts of our society disenfranchised and permanently behind the mainstream. In so doing, we would fail to secure the full potential of these technologies for our country."

Peter Mandelson, the business secretary, said: "This report sets out a strategy for building a knowledge economy where our most valuable assets are the skills and innovation that underpin our digital industries. This is absolutely vital if Britain is to benefit from some of the greatest economic opportunities on offer this century."

Andy Burnham, the culture secretary, said: "Britain has always led the world in content creation -- with the best music, films, and TV -- and it is vital that we carry forward this strength into the digital age.

"This is a significant report for the creative industries, taking steps to establish workable systems of copyright in an online age and to preserve choice of public service content. But it is only the beginning of the process and we need to work hard in the coming months to secure workable solutions."

The full interim Digital Britain report can be found on the DCMS website.

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