Today the UK’s House of Lords Select Committee on technology released a report that in frank terms criticised the government’s approach to broadband. The problem is, the reports said, is that the government is obsessed by speed, rather than coverage.
Creating hyper-connected super-fast future, virtual cloud digital sci-fi cities with 4GillionMbps* connectivity isn’t much use to Mavis Figworth in the village of Plunk(*1), if she can’t even get a connection fast enough to let her access local government services, eHealth data or something really important, like her Facebook account.
What the report is saying is that instead of removing the digital divide the government’s approach is actually encouraging it.
Which is why it seems to make little sense that in the same report suggests that the UK move all its TV services online and take broadcast TV off air to make room for mobile broadband. Yes, turn off the TV terrestrial stations completely.
Sounds nuts? Well actually it’s a great idea – really great. But if we can’t get decent internet connections to the whole country now then it would seem insane to suggest that the network should be used for something as basic as TV.
The intention of the report then could be to put the idea out there in order to truly incentivize the government to make it happen. Its 530m subsidy to get broadband out to remote areas is relatively pitiful when it would take a lot more than that to really nail the national coverage issue. But while it would seem absurd now for only major city centres to get decent TV reception it somehow seems acceptable for broadband.
So get rid of broadcast TV I say, and stick it all exclusively online. Nothing would get the UK government sorting the Internet out quicker than a rampaging Mavis Figworth who can’t watch Strictly Come Dancing. It’s a crazy plan, but it might just work.
*(made up number)
*1 also made up