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Wednesday, 20 November, 2002, 14:03 GMT
Does broadband access matter to you?
Every school and doctor's surgery is to be wired up with a high speed link to the internet, Tony Blair has promised at a London internet summit.
More than £1bn is to be invested in giving broadband connections to public services like hospitals and universities who currently use telephone lines to access the web.
"Britain has the potential to become a technological powerhouse," Mr Blair said, while speaking of a government report that shows that the UK is the second best country in the world to do e-business - after the US.
The UK has been criticised for getting onto broadband so slowly and BT is expected to announce new ways to convince customers who are uncertain why they need broadband, to buy into it.
Does having broadband make any difference to you? Will the rest of the nation want it? Is it worth the money that the government is putting into it?
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This debate has now closed. Thank you for your comments.
Edward Conway, Northumberland, UK
I live in a small village in Fife. The village is quite affluent, with a high proportion of computers per household, and a growing rate of usage amongst the OAP's. There is no Cable available here and most residents have to use BT as there is no real viable alternative. Our problem is that we are low in anyone's priority listing for Broadband, and we cannot come close to BT's demand for 400 interested users (there are not many more houses in the village). We cannot get any indication as to when BT will connect us up, and Blair's initiative will not help us either. We therefore believe that we will become second rate citizens.
If BT cannot supply the ordinary bod who wants it, how on earth are they going to supply it to anyone else? This will mean upgrading the exchanges that they don't want to upgrade for everyone else.
I think it's a good idea, money well spent. Then again most systems will either end up as a grey sculptor in the corner of the doctor's surgery, or as a 20 kilo paper weight.
Geoff Stafford, Manchester, UK
Investment in broadband for public services is an excellent way to cross subsidise universal access. It is a win-win situation - the public services get broadband, and people in areas with low population density will be able to connect without having to make ridiculous and humiliating petitions to BT. As for the need for broadband, the comments by Steve T provide the answer.
We got broadband the moment BT made it an option for us and I would hate to go back to my old modem. The interesting thing is that our average monthly phone bill has gone down by £30 from two years ago, when we didn't spend half as much time online. Back then we also paid an additional £12 a month for our internet access. So for a monthly saving of £15 we now have a much faster connection, we can stay online 24 hours a day and we can use the phone while connected to the internet. It's a pretty good deal. Should the government spend our tax money on it? No! Spend that money on schools instead.
George Grant, England
Surely we need more nurses, teachers and doctors before spending a fortune on broadband, which at the moment only really serves to enable people to play games faster and download music.
I would dearly love broadband but the cost is too much. It is around £27 pm on top of my local BT line charge (say £15pm) so overall it is much too much.
I would love to get a broadband connections. Unfortunately this does not appear to be possible where I live. Where's that you ask? Outer Hebrides? No I live in Hampshire! Incidentally we can't even get Channel 5 or terrestrial digital TV either.
If broadband is available to patients in hospitals, I would like to see the scrapping of the expensive units currently housing a TV, radio and phone. Many people are so ill or haven't got the energy to read books or other activities that require high bouts of concentration, so TV is the only medium. Many people cannot afford £5 per day on these things and it should be free to use and they should only have to pay for the phone at normal BT rates at the end of the stay.
Steve T, UK
£1bn isn't enough - the government should have spent the money it got from mobile phone firms to wire up every building in the UK.
I seem to remember Blair making this promise before the 1997 election, and he didn't mention spending £1bn on it then - why has he not delivered before?
Sylvia Foxcroft, England
Giving broadband to local GPs would be like giving a laptop to a llama, they wouldn't know what is was for. Although commercial organisations can send me e-mails on my birthday, the anniversary of buying my car or the anniversary of buying contact lenses, my local GP refuses to take requests for repeat prescriptions by e-mail because "it confuses old people". Broadband will be wasted on the NHS and GPs until they abandon their patronising cottage industry mentality. Save us millions of pounds by spending it somewhere where it will be used wisely.
18 Nov 02 | Technology
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