UK CHANCELLOR OF THE EXCHEQUER George Osborne on Wednesday pledged to bring ultrafast broadband to (almost) all homes across the country, as part of his 2015 Budget speech.
While details were thin, with Osborne failing to mention when the rollout is due to be completed or how it will be financed, the Chancellor did say he wants the UK to lead the way when it comes to ultrafast broadband.
"Over 80 percent of the population have access to superfast broadband and there are six million customers of 4G that our auction made possible. Today we set out a comprehensive strategy so we stay ahead," he said.
"We're committing to a new national ambition to bring ultrafast broadband of at least 100 megabits per second to nearly all homes in the country, so Britain is out in front."
The existing Broadband Delivery UK programme aims to make fixed line superfast broadband services that deliver speeds of at least 24Mbps available to 95 percent of the population by 2017. The country still has a long way to go, with the UK's average broadband speed coming in at 18.7Mbps back in October.
The government is also looking to boost online services in rural areas, and has said it will raise the Universal Service Obligation - the legal entitlement to a basic service - from dial-up speeds of 28Kbps to 5Mbps broadband, which will be supported by investment in satellite and WiFi services.
"We'll test the latest satellite technology so we reach the remotest communities. We’ll provide funding for WiFi in our public libraries, and expand broadband vouchers to many more cities, so no one is excluded," Osborne said.
Plans to invest £600m to clear spectrum bands to help drive more mobile data coverage and capacity were also outlined on Wednesday, although no further details were announced.
On the technology front, Osborne also announced plans to throw money at the Internet of Things (IoT), including an investment in the development of smart cities.
"We're committing almost £140m to world-class research across the UK into the infrastructure and cities of the future," he said.
"And we'll invest in what is known as the Internet of Things. This is the next stage of the information revolution, connecting up everything from urban transport to medical devices to household appliances."
Osborne also said that the video games industry will be better supported, and announced plans to invest £100m in driverless car technology.
He said: "We're going to back our brilliant automotive industry by investing £100m to stay ahead in the race to driverless technology."
While not related purely to technology, Osborne's announcement for apprentice relief likely will also be welcomed by the sector, as it's a popular route for skilling up IT workers. µ
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