By Lea Pachta

With government focus being taken up by the forthcoming election, its chaotic digital policies were highlighted with today’s breaking story how Lyddington, a village in Rutland, raised £37,000 itself to ensure 40mbps broadband and provide businesses and residents access to what many in cities take for granted such as online video conferencing and access to social sites such as Youtube etc.

“The government’s attitude to high speed broadband to rural areas is ridiculous when you consider over a third of the country will suffer, and it is simply not good enough to push the burden to fall back on to businesses — in effect causing a rural/urban digital divide – which is strange for a government preaching equality!” said Mark Seemann, product strategy and development director at leading cloud-based and Unified Communications specialists Outsourcery.

“Many SMEs, which are the engine of the British economy, are based in rural areas and through the government’s current policy will be excluded from the benefits of superfast broadband. This will have serious implications not just for the recovery but also the future of Britain in a global economy.”

The government has pledged to offer all homes a minimum speed of 2Mbps (megabits per second) by 2012. But critics say these speeds are far too slow for the ever-increasing demands of web users.

“What is now required is a carefully thought out strategy by the next government to encompass both the short and long term plan to make the UK’s Broadband infrastructure competitive and fit for purpose,” said Seemann. “Due to the time scales required to roll-out high speed 100mb broadband services to the UK (estimates from 5 to 10 years are being quoted), a short term plan to give UK’s businesses superfast broadband is critical.

“The most effective method of delivering a short term plan is to establish a Broadband Grant system whereby businesses can receive government subsidised discounts for ordering fibre optic private circuits from BT, Virgin and other Independent Service providers. These private circuits are available now but the cost of installation and on-going rental usually place these out of the reach of small and medium sized businesses. A grant system would allow UK businesses to benefit from 100mb broadband now whilst the new national broadband infrastructure is being built.

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