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Digital Britain – Interim Report = Half-Baked Ideas!

31 January 2009 by Stephen McNamara

Today the Internet is awash with news, article, links and blogs about the new Government report on Britain’s digital future. When reading through the various online entries on the subject it is striking just how many different industries this report impacts on. ISPs, online retailers, media, advertising, newspapers, the list goes on. And all seem to find reason to lambast the Government.

While each industry is preoccupied with how the report affects them everyone seems to be united in questioning the relevant expertise of the author Lord Carter. In fact many say the report is riddled with poor conclusions based on misassumptions drawn from fundamental misunderstanding of the digital arena.

For example, a 2 megabit per second connection for all by 2012 is proposed. But that is puny even by today’s standards! And as the UK is already 99% connected, taking a further three years to get to 100% is hardly ambitious.

Then there is the question of who is going to pay for all the upgrades. Listening to each interested party the argument seems to be a universal “someone else”. No one is sure who should or will pay, all they are certain of is that it shouldn’t be them.

Commenting on the report, Peter Mandelson 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 fully from some of the greatest economic opportunities on offer this century.”

He is absolutely right, the problem is I don’t think he, or Lord Carter, really know what they are talking about. The interim report seems to be a half-baked affair, full of stodgy wording, rhetoric and confusion. I only hope that the final edition will offer real ambition backed by real understanding of the issues.

We wait to see.