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Britain Botches Broadband

Ray Le Maistre

3:15 PM -- There was a modicum of excitement here in the U.K. ahead of the major assessment of "Digital Britain" by Lord Carter (Stephen, to his mates at Ofcom and NTL/Virgin Media), which was unveiled today. (See Get Carter!)

That slither of anticipation was hung, drawn, quartered, pickled, and then crushed into a pulp today when Carter's report hit the streets. Why? Because while so many other countries are forging ahead with broadband strategies worthy of the term, this report set out a goal of delivering 2 Mbit/s to all British homes by 2012.

Hold on -- it's 2009, and we're talking 2 Mbit/s? That seems, to be very polite, pretty pathetic, and, according to this report from The Guardian, it seems I'm not alone in that view.

Now, I know we're talking all 25 million or so British homes here, but this includes mobile broadband, not just fixed. And given the already widespread availability of DSL and the current potential of HSPA (let alone what will be possible in three years' time), an aspirational target of 2 Mbit/s target by 2012 makes me want to check out the possibility of emigrating to Latvia. Or Portugal. (See European Minnow Boasts Fastest FTTH and Portugal 'Gets' FTTH.)

Quite frankly, it's embarrassing.

And let's not even pretend that BT Group plc (NYSE: BT; London: BTA) is going to help matters. (See BT's FTTH Conceit.)

I'll come back to this matter once I've recovered from the disappointment.

Current estimate -- about 2012.

— Ray Le Maistre, International News Editor, Light Reading

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