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British Gov Drafts Eco- and Industry-Friendly Digital Plan

Yesterday the British government revealed a plan to boost its digital and communications industry, part of an effort to make the UK a competitive low carbon economy in the next 5 to 10 years.

In the interim report, Digital Britain Lord Carter, the British minister for communications, technology and broadcasting, listed 22 recommendations based on an analysis of broadcasting and the UK's digital infrastructure.

It called for a number of changes, including general access to a broadband speed of at least 2 megabits per second (Mbps) for all UK citizens, the BBC writes.

Current guidelines for telecom firms stipulate they must provide lines that can handle 28.8kbps. At an increased speed of 2Mbps, lines shall be capable of handling more video and interactive sites.

Eight more reports will follow — the last of which will be revealed in late spring. At that time the government will give a conclusion as to whether local internet service providers (ISPs) can be relied on to build next generation networks themselves, or if it will offer assistance.

President Obama has put nationwide broadband connectivity at the top of his list; and in September, the European Commission said it may make high-speed internet access "a universal right," forcing the region's telecoms to avail broadband to all.

Tired of waiting for ISPs to come around to them, a number of small UK-based communities began setting up their own broadband infrastructure, such as community-owned fibre projects.

"It affects every community in our country who are looking for the best digital infrastructure, access to broadband, that we can offer them," BBC quoted Prime Minister Gordon Brown as saying.

The digital economy will play a crucial part in lifting Britain out of recession, he added, noting the market is worth about £50bn a year.

In addition to universal access and next-generations networks, the recommendations cover the modernization of the wireless radio spectrum, enhanced digital delivery of public services, a digital future for radio, and digital content rights.

Specifically it examines file-sharing practices of movies, music, and TV — suggesting possible remedies, like conducting surveys of people's attitudes towards paying modest and proportionate contributions to counter the losses from piracy.

It also offers guidelines on how to protect the increasing number of youth that frequent social networking sites and play games online.

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