Plans outlined for total UK broadband coverage

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The Independent Tech

Chancellor Alistair Darling today outlined plans to use Government money to help achieve complete broadband internet coverage for the whole of the UK.

Creative industries could be given access to £2.5 billion set aside to encourage investment in the "high-skilled jobs of the future", he said in his budget address.

The Government is in the middle of a Digital Britain review, a major consultation on the future of the media and communications industries, and last week the Prime Minister said the digital economy would be vital to Britain's future economic prosperity.

Mr Darling told the Commons: "It is vital to ensure the entire country and economy benefits from the digital age.

"So I am allocating extra funding for digital investment, to help to extend the broadband network to almost every community.

"This will allow us to deliver the vision set out in the Digital Britain report - making sure everyone can benefit from this communications revolution and create thousands more skilled jobs."

A new £750 million strategic investment fund would be created to give financial support to emerging technologies and high-skilled sectors including advanced manufacturing and biotechnology.

The Digital Britain review, led by communications minister Lord Carter, published an interim report in January which called for every home in the UK to have access to 2 megabit-per-second broadband - fast enough to watch video online - by 2012.

Currently around 90 per cent of the country can access broadband internet, but only 60 per cent actually do so.

Countries such as France and Australia have announced ambitious plans for creating superfast next-generation broadband networks in recent months.

The final Digital Britain report is due to be published in the summer.

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