THE GOVERNMENT has launched a consultation on bringing new broadband services to 90% of households in the UK by 2017. To partly finance this, a Next Generation Fund will be created by imposing a charge of 50p per month on all fixed telephone lines in the country.

Launching the consultation, Secretary of State, Lord Mandelson said: “This investment is about bringing the future of broadband to areas of the country that would otherwise miss out. We cannot underestimate the opportunities this will bring for homes and businesses which is why we are taking action to make sure everyone benefits.”

“Next Generation Access” is the term used to describe the infrastructure and set of technologies which provide super-fast broadband. Currently the majority of internet services are provided through copper wires like telephones, but Next Generation Access technologies can include Fibre cables, satellite or mobile phone and wireless technlogies.

Technology is changing at a phenonemal rate so it is difficult to predict precisely the type of services that will be made available using new technologies, but the Government believes that public services will be delivered much more effectively. New participatory information, education and health services could be delivered directly to homes and businesses.

The consultation document Proposal for a Next Generation Fund is available to download from the Hedon Blog or from the Department of Business, Innovation and Skills website.

The consultation – which seems principally aimed at the business community – ends on 1st April 2010. Please feel free to leave your comments here which can be conveyed to the Government on behalf of the Hedon Blog as part of its response to the consultation.

The Government will consider the responses to the consultation and will publish a response within 12 weeks. The responses will help inform policy and provide a basis with which to move forward, particularly regarding decisions on how to appoint those companies that will implement and provide the new services.

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