Speaking in London yesterday afternoon, culture minister, Jeremy Hunt, claimed that the UK will have the "fastest broadband of any major European country by 2015." With the government releasing a further £300 million of funding.
This announcement came following previous accusations that Mr Hunt focused on speed more than coverage and to this, he pleaded guilty, claiming that we must recognise the increasing demand for high-speed content; in his speech, Mr Hunt mentioned the Olympic Games and cited some interesting usage figures:
- 700GB/s were delivered from the BBC website when Bradley Wiggins won gold.
- On a peak day, 2.8PB (petabytes - that's over 2.9 million gigabytes) were downloaded.
- Nearly a million people watched Andy Murray win gold online, with nine million following coverage on their mobiles.
- London2012.com received over 20 billion views.
Mr Hunt isn't wrong, short-sightedness could leave us in the stone age and it's great to see government initiative push us forwards, however, the minister also cites GDP studies to validate the government's expenditure on broadband. However this writer knows from experience and, perhaps many of our readers also, that even with government funding, broadband infrastructure firms, such as BT, are incredibly selective over how they interpret coverage requirements, often leaving industrial parks and new housing estates uncovered by high-speed fibre, as either the area in general already has sufficient coverage to meet targets or that the firm would make a loss by supporting a handful of widely-spread factories and offices, each requiring only a single connection.
If the government is to truly push forward with a successful GDP-boosting deployment of high-speed broadband, whilst having third-parties compete for business is a good driver, the government can't be completely hands-off in its handling of the matter.
On a very positive note, Mr Hunt has laid out his intent to support private firms in delivering fibre-to-the-home (FTTH) from 2016 onwards, which would see speeds surpass the one gigabit barrier sometime in the future.