BBC may spend surplus on broadband plan

A large percentage of the BBC’s £130 million-a-year (E141m) digital switchover surplus licence fee money is expected to be taken by comms minister Lord Carter to help achieve his goal of getting broadband in every UK home by 2012.

It has been reported that the outline of a deal has been reached, although the full details have yet to be finalised, for £90 million to £100 million of the annual switchover surplus to be used to help the communications minister achieve his ambition of universal broadband access by 2012. The remaining £30 million to £40 million is said to have been earmarked for regional media.

Carter has stated the government aim to provide universal broadband and said Britain would work to provide Internet access to the whole country at around 2 Megabits per second (Mb) through a mixture of fixed and wireless connections by 2012. Carter also intends to introduce legislation to force Internet service providers to crack down on Web piracy, will form a body to promote UK content and copyright, and will look to allow broadcasters to adapt to the changing times. His junior minister David Lamy said earlier this week it was 'too complex' to devise effective anti piracy laws for the internet.

Currently, around 60 percent of the country takes broadband, while some 99 percent has access to it, but not always at the required 2 Mb speed.

Prime Minister Gordon Brown said “Our digital networks will be the backbone of our economy in the decades ahead,” Brown said. “It is as essential to our future prosperity in the 21st Century as roads, bridges, trains and electricity were in the 20th Century.”

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