Thursday, January 29, 2009

Digital Britain Seeks Stimulus for the Digital Economy

The British government published a plan to boost the nation's digital economy by spurring investment in the telecom sector.
The Interim Report outlines Britain's progress in building a digital market-place, while also setting priorities for industry engagement. A final Digital Britain Report is due before the summer. Currently, the UK's digital economy accounts for around 8% of GDP.

The Digital Britain has five objectives:

  • Upgrading and modernizing digital networks -- wired, wireless and broadcast -- so that Britain has an infrastructure that enables it to remain globally competitive in the digital world;

  • Fostering a dynamic investment climate for UK digital content, applications and services, that makes the UK an attractive place for both domestic and inward investment in its digital economy;

  • Promoting UK content for UK users: content of quality and scale that serves the interests, experiences and needs of all UK citizens; in particular impartial news, comment and analysis;

  • Fairness and access for all: universal availability coupled with the skills and digital literacy to enable near-universal participation in the digital economy and digital society; and

  • Developing the infrastructure, skills and take-up to enable the widespread online delivery of public services and business interface with Government.

To achieve these aims, the "Digital Britain" contains more than 20 recommendations, including specific proposals on:

  • Next Generation Networks. A strategy group will be formed, by the time of the final Digital Britain Report, to assess the case for how far market-led investment by Virgin Media, BT Group plc and new network enterprises will take the UK in terms of roll-out and likely take-up; and whether any contingency measures are necessary.

  • Universal access to broadband. The government is developing plans for a digital Universal Service Commitment to be effective by 2012, delivered by a mixture of fixed and mobile, wired and wireless means. Subject to further study of the costs and benefits, we will set out our plans for the level of service which we believe should be universal. We anticipate this consideration will include options up to 2Mb/s.

  • the Creation of a second Public Service Provider of Scale

  • The Modernization of Wireless Radio Spectrum Holdings. This includes resolving the future of existing 2G radio spectrum through a structured framework, allowing existing operators to re-align their existing holdings, re-use the spectrum and start the move to next generation mobile services. The government will make available more radio spectrum suitable for next generation mobile services. The government and Ofcom will also consider further network sharing, spectrum or carrier-sharing proposals from the operators, particularly where these can lead to greater coverage and are part of the mobile operator's contribution to a broadband universal service commitment.

  • A Digital Future for Radio. Plans call for the creation a Digital Radio Delivery Group which includes the retailers, the Transmission Networks, the BBC, the Commercial Radio Companies, the Car Manufacturers, consumer representatives and the device manufacturers, whose role would be to increase the attractiveness, availability and affordability of DAB and to advise on the Digital Migration Plan.

  • A New Deal for Digital Content Rights

  • Enhancing the digital delivery of public services. This includes a commitment to ensure that public services online are designed for ease of use by the widest range of citizens, taking advantage of the widespread uptake of broadband to offer an improved customer experience and encourage the shift to online channels in delivery and service support.


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