Testing Britain's need for speed
One thing I spotted this week was an awful lot of talk about a scurrilous, all-consuming Broadband Tax. From what I saw of it, this HMRC-sanctioned
highwayman would soon be robbing helpless old ladies and giving all the proceeds to us internet-savvy youngsters; all so we can tweet about it to our
equally tech-hungry pals at a fractionally quicker rate. Scandalous stuff indeed. But before I let myself feel guilty for a deed that, five minutes earlier, I
was blissfully unaware I'd committed, I thought I'd check out the facts.
What is Digital Britain?
In November, the government laid out a raft of plans to improve Britain's standing as a technological powerhouse (don't laugh!) - all under the rather
emphatic title of Digital Britain. Among these were a number of measures intended to improve the country's broadband infrastructure - bringing us to
the dreaded 50p levy. To explain; this much-vaunted 50p figure was a reference to the amount we would all be expected to pay each month to fund
super-fast broadband across the UK.
However, since then there has been something of a backlash. A report published this week by the cross-party Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS)
Committee questioned the broadband scheme, taking particular umbrage with the way it would be funded. Thus the â€˜mug your granny to go on
Google' coverage we've seen all week.
But that's not all. High speed connections are "probably a bit of a luxury", Talk Talk's Andrew Heaney submitted to the report; calling into question not
just the method of funding, but the necessity for government intervention at all. And so, months after the state committed itself to a Â£1 billion
investment in Britain's broadband infrastructure, the argument begins again; do we really need it?
Well, do we need it?
The question is likely to draw a pretty emotive response from whoever you ask. Now, you may think the planned levy of 50p per month (plus VAT)
doesn't sound all that much first off. However, it's important to remember that, with the lik