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Last Updated:  Friday, 21 March, 2003, 10:36 GMT
Turning broadband into water
Tap water
Can broadband become as necessary as water?
A broadband research centre has been set up at a UK university as part of an attempt to ensure the technology becomes as central to life as electricity and water.

Researchers at Brunel University are determined to identify applications that will make broadband indispensable.

"Broadband Britain is crying out for intelligent research into how the technology can change our lives," said Dr Jyoti Choudrie, who will run the broadband research centre.

"At the moment, we're not doing ourselves any favours. There are critical lessons to be learned from studying how other societies are successfully sewing broadband into the fabric of everyday life," she added.

Hardwiring new houses

This groundbreaking work is helping transform broadband into a critical utility, just like electricity or water
Dr Jyoti Choudrie, Brunel University
The research team has already visited South Korea and Hong Kong to see how these broadband-savvy countries are using fast net services.

In South Korea, 60% of the population has a broadband connection compared to just 11% in the UK.

Hard-wiring broadband access into new housing estates could be crucial, argued Dr Choudrie.

"Across the Atlantic, broadband access is becoming an inalienable right for regional housing associations in the state of Kentucky," she said by way of example.

Everyday lives

"This groundbreaking work is helping transform broadband into a critical utility, just like electricity or water," she added.

It is hoped that research undertaken at Brunel in conjunction with internet service providers and the government's broadband stakeholder group can go some way to making broadband as important in the UK.

The race to capture consumers is not enough, said Dr Choudrie.

"If people don't see the value of broadband to their everyday lives, they're hardly going to pay for it," she said.

Findings from South Korea showed the mothers valued broadband as a way of helping their children with homework, whereas young people used the technology to watch TV on their PCs and to play online games.

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