I went along to the Digital Britain Summit today, a small affair of 250 people or so in the British Library coming together to debate the welcome strategy that is coming together around new technology infrastructure. We had the political heavyweights, Brown, Mandelson and Burnham, but also an excellent set of digital entrepreneurs and commentators.
The dramatic report from Consumers International which showed this week that the UK has the worst copyright regime in the world for consumers (come on Intellectual Property Office, admit it – have you no professional pride?) caused some debate.
Conversely, the UK is seen as a competitive broadband and mobile leader (even if customer service has been shoddy at times) but the point was made that we can’t talk about digital Britain without talking about digital Europe. Other stuff that I found interesting is that we are consuming 50% more digital data every twelve months and it is migrating away from the PC, with more people accessing the internet worldwide through mobiles than through laptops and desktops.
The jewel in the crown of the Digital Britain project is the commitment to universal broadband (and also mobile) access – welcome and forward-looking, though at what speed? My guess, reading between the lines, is that this might come down to whether we as taxpayers will cough up money to cover the households that the market will not deliver for through competition.
Good luck to the forces of light on this – because a donkey universal broadband speed is still a donkey, not yet a new Digital Britain.