Minister hints at funding for UK's next gen broadband

Lord Carter hinted that his vision for Digital Britain will promise broadband for everyone in the UK and that the government may provide funding for the roll-out of the next generation broadband, according to The Guardian.

Carter, formerly head of Ofcom, was appointed Communications Minister by British Prime Minister Gordon Brown in October to ensure the UK remains at the forefront of the global communications sector. His final Digital Britain report will be out by June.

Carter spoke about the route taken by other countries in the roll-out of next generation broadband. His comments have been taken by several delegates, including telcos, as suggesting the government would be willing to put its hand in its pocket and provide funding.

Last September, the government's broadband adviser, Francesco Caio, said public money was not needed for the installation of next-generation networks, while Ofcom has made it plain that it does not expect the UK taxpayer to help out. But in the worsening economic climate, governments in other countries such as Portugal and Australia are investing in next generation broadband networks.

He said his Vision will include using mobile phone networks as well as the UK's fixed-line telecoms infrastructure.

As well as getting the technology into every part of the UK, he said the government must improve the population's media and digital literacy so the 40% who could get broadband, but choose not to, will be able to sign up.

'It is clear that there are many other countries in the world taking a completely different view of the role of infrastructure as an essential part of an economy and the role of government in the provision of that infrastructure,' said Carter.

He also pointed to the plunging share prices across the communications industry as indicating that these companies will have trouble raising cash for investment.