Buckinghamshire Advertiser - - OPINION - DO­MINIC GRIEVE??? MP for Bea­cons­field­MP­for???

GIVEN the growth in dig­i­tal com­mu­ni­ca­tions, ac­cess to high speed broad­band is in­creas­ingly con­sid­ered as one of the util­ity ser­vices – as es­sen­tial to house­holds as the tra­di­tional ser­vices like water, drainage, elec­tric­ity and gas.

Our county coun­cil like many oth­ers has im­ple­mented plans to im­prove broad­band cov­er­age. Na­tion­ally, more than 90 per cent of premises are now able to con­nect to su­per­fast broad­band. The tar­get is to reach 95 per cent of premises by the end of 2017.

Dur­ing Septem­ber, the Dig­i­tal Econ­omy Bill was de­bated in the House of Com­mons. This would bring about a Uni­ver­sal Ser­vice Obli­ga­tion (USO), so ev­ery premise in the coun­try would have ac­cess to broad­band at a speed of 10Mbps as an ab­so­lute min­i­mum by the end of this Par­lia­ment in 2020.

At this speed it is pos­si­ble for a house­hold to watch video on de­mand, use so­cial me­dia, work from home or shop online.

Nat­u­rally min­is­ters are well aware that de­vel­op­ments in dig­i­tal tech­nol­ogy are hap­pen­ing fast, so this is not a static tar­get. It will be kept un­der re­view so that it can keep pace with con­stituents’ needs. The broad­band USO would en­able con­sumers to have the le­gal right to re­quest an af­ford­able broad­band con­nec­tion of a min­i­mum spec­i­fied speed, from a des­ig­nated uni­ver­sal ser­vice provider, ir­re­spec­tive of where they live or work.

Of­com, the reg­u­la­tory body, is work­ing on the de­tails of how the USO will work and is go­ing to re­port by the end of this year.

The Dig­i­tal Econ­omy Bill is in­tended to sup­port new dig­i­tal in­dus­tries as well as en­abling the build­ing of world-class dig­i­tal in­fra­struc­ture (in­clud­ing mo­bile net­works as well as fast broad­band). Pro­tect­ing in­tel­lec­tual prop­erty is im­por­tant, as is al­low­ing reg­is­tered de­sign own­ers to give no­tice of their rights, more cheaply and flex­i­bly.

Pro­tect­ing in­di­vid­u­als is also es­sen­tial. Many par­ents are wor­ried about how easy it is for their chil­dren to ac­cess harm­ful sites (such as pornog­ra­phy providers), so there would be civil sanc­tions to guard against this.

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