Today, the UK government finally released its long-awaited Digital Britain report, which, among other things, confirms the government's intention to provide broadband access at 2Mbps to every household in the UK by 2012. According to the report, about 11% of all households in the UK cannot currently get broadband service at this speed. The British government plans to deliver this 'Universal Service Commitment' through a mix of existing technologies and expects to provide £200 million in public funding for this project.

Universal Access

According to the authors of this report, many of these households that aren't currently served by broadband connections would probably move directly to higher tier, 'super-fast' broadband services up to 40Mbps. The government will remain technology neutral under this scheme and look for the most cost effective means of providing availability, while also encouraging competition between different vendors and ISPs.

Next Generation Internet

Besides its direct focus on consumers, the report also argues that Britain's communications infrastructure for mobile and fixed broadband still compares favorably to the rest of the world. But is starting to show strains, as companies and the government haven't invested enough in the backhaul infrastructure (also known as the 'middle mile') in recent years.

The report also argues for the establishment of a fund to invest in creating the next generation of broadband access and services. The authors argue that in twenty years' time, countries where consumers are only connected over 3.3Mbps lines will be woefully left behind.  We have no idea where the author's got the number of 3.3Mbps from, but we would argue that 3.3Mbps will probably seem inadequate within just a few years from now.

Of course, even today, 2Mbps can barely be considered high-speed access anymore, though it is definitely a good baseline, as it will allow users to play back most of video content on the net without major inconveniences.

ISP Forced to Cut Back on Illegal P2P File Sharing

As the Guardian's Charles Arthur reports, however, British ISPs will also be required to cut illegal file sharing by 70%, and Ofcom, the "independent regulator and competition authority for the UK communications industries" will be charged with getting ISPs to comply with this. Chapter 4 of the report also claims that P2P file sharing currently costs the UK music industry around £180 million per year, and that the TV and film industry is loosing about £152 per year. Those numbers always have to be taken with a grain of salt (not every copy represents a lost sale, after all), but if Ofcom doesn't see a 70% reduction in file sharing within a year, it will have the power to force ISPs to block specific sites and protocols (like Bittorrent, for example).

The Music Ally blog features a more detailed breakdown of the proposed anti-piracy measures.