Broadband, Darling?

8:40 AM -- The U.K.'s Chancellor of the Exchequer, Alistair Darling, has included financial support for nationwide broadband coverage of at least 2 Mbit/s in his latest budget, reports The Daily Telegraph.

The idea of a "2 Mbit/s for all Brits" scheme was announced earlier this year, and EuroBlog took a Shiraz-induced swipe at the plan's lack of ambition. (See Britain Botches Broadband and Digital Britain Planned.)

And it seems we're not alone in thinking that a real opportunity to lift the U.K. out of the broadband minor leagues is being missed. Simon Webster, head of broadband access at NEC Corp. (Tokyo: 6701)'s European operations, questions whether "the commitment to 2 Mbit/s [will] really do the job."

Webster's view, sent to Light Reading by email, no doubt matches those of other vendors looking for a slice of the action: "While the aim to provide 2 Mbit/s broadband speeds to every home is a step in the right direction, equality of broadband access will not happen until fibre [is taken] closer to subscribers’ homes... Failure to invest in fibre will leave us with gaping inequalities."

BT Group plc (NYSE: BT; London: BTA) would claim it's doing just that, but its approach is scattergun and conditional. Meanwhile, consumers in Latvia could be getting broadband at up to 500 Mbit/s by the end of this year. (See European Minnow Boasts Fastest FTTH and BT's Fiber to the Hype.)

Can't you put some cash behind that kind of scheme, Darling?

— Ray Le Maistre, International News Editor, Light Reading

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