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Tuesday, 26 May 2009

BBC broadband coverage

The next three days sees BBC news and website coverage of the broadband issue, both from the point of view of those who cannot get it to those who already have more than the UK is currently able to imagine.

This morning the BBC were on 'my patch' recording interviews with a family who can still only get dial up. This is a family who can't access Youtube, iPlayer or any of the other applications many now take for granted. Their children haven't even tried these apps, nor do they benefit from the opportunities presented by the technology. It is hard to remember how painfully slow dial up is until you try to get on facebook which took around 5 mins just to get to the log in page and sign in. Uploading photos, checking out your friends' profiles etc is a process that could not be fitted easily into a day let alone a quick flit in and out to see how your friends are doing. And experimenting, investigating and playing with the very many tools etc out there on the Net is impossible.

(Apologies for quality of video, it's on my phone - if you want to see better quality, watch BBC Breakfast News tomorrow!)

Rory did focus on the USO at one point during the interview, and once again, it is hard to see how 2Mbps could be enough for ANYONE except those who have been forced to spend their days waiting for an 8Mbps anti virus download and who are ignorant of the many possible other things that they could be using the technology for because they haven't had the opportunity to try it.

2Mbps is NOT enough as a USO. It is lowering the bar to the lowest common denominator, rather than upping it so that all our citizens are able to innovate, educate themselves, and help to drag Britain to a position at the forefront of the digital economy. And rural broadband is vital when funds are allocated, which they undoubtedly will be to solving this problem now it has finally become so high profile.

What I am still unsure about is whether this coverage will actually begin to pick up on the very many people who are out there resolving these issues whilst the telcos fiddle. Whilst Cybermoor and Alston will be getting free publicity tomorrow for their funded network when the fibres are lit, many projects around the country are now in development which are being and will be resourced locally and by the community, owned by their communities, and now (watch this space) supported by industry.

Whether the Digital Britain report can even begin to take on board the speed at which solutions are being implemented and the impact that has on Net usage, network capacity etc, we can only wait and see. In the meantime, watch the BBC!

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