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Page last updated at 13:31 GMT, Friday, 11 December 2009

Superfast broadband 'by 2017'

Ian Paul
Ian Paul
Editor, Politics Show South

Video: rural broadband lottery

In his pre-budget report this week, Chancellor Alistair Darling pledged the rollout of superfast broadband to 90% of the UK by 2017.

He also announced a 50p-a-month tax on landlines to pay for it.

The first part of which will come as good news to the many areas in the south which struggle to get even fast, never mind superfast, broadband.

But will it ever actually get delivered?

Not quite superfast

The average broadband speed in the UK is around 3.8 mbps. To put that into context, if you want to watch the Politics Show online you will be struggling if you get under 2 mbps.

Head into many rural areas, and you will be lucky to get that.

Tom Amery works for the Watercress Company in Dorset, and reckons they are lucky if they get 0.5 mbps.

He says the business is growing by about 20% a year, but their super slow internet is holding them back.

They have paid out £6,000 to put a booster mast on the roof, but even so things are still grinding along.

Speeding up

Ironically, still in Dorset but down the road in Bournemouth, they have just come out top in a national survey of broadband speeds.

The average there is a nippy 8.06 mbps.

And if a scheme just underway there works out then they could be about to make the jump to lightspeed.

Politics Show on iPlayer
Faster speeds needed for favourite programmes

The idea is to do away with BT's copper cables and lay new fibre optics in the sewers - so no digging up the road either.

According to the firm behind it, Fibrecity Bournemouth would give locals a broadband speed of over 90 mbps.

Fast enough to download a two-hour video in a minute. And the Politics Show a lot faster than that.

Clear advantages there - but is it all a bit sci-fi pie-in-the-sky?

The people of Bournemouth will have to wait to find out.

The pilot scheme for 300 houses has just started, and everyone in Bournemouth will have to hang on until 2011 before they can download the Politics Show at the speed of light.

Oh, and the system will not work in rural areas as the sewers are not up to it.

So will we all soon be zooming on the information superhighway, or still tootling along on the B-roads of the web?

Why not send us an email and tell us what you think.

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