Page last updated at 10:22 GMT, Monday, 26 January 2009

Government delays UK net report

Lord Carter (PA)
Lord Carter is expected to publish his full report later in the year

Communications Minister Lord Carter was expected to publish interim findings on the UK's digital economy on 24 January.

But a spokeswoman for the Department of Culture, Media and Sport said the report would now appear "before the end of the month".

The Digital Britain report examines a range of issues affecting internet users such as security and and safety and "promoting content standards".

The full report and action plan will be unveiled in late spring 2009.

In the run-up to the interim report being revealed Culture Secretary Andy Burnham said the government was looking at regulating the internet to "even up" the imbalance with television.

The report is examining a number of different areas, including broadband development, public service broadcasting and digital radio.

It is thought the report may set minimum broadband speeds and impose obligations on telecom suppliers to provide universal coverage.

Currently, communication providers are only enjoined to provide a functional internet connection that can run at a minimum speed of 28.8 kilobits per second.

The report is also expected to examine illegal file-sharing of movies, music and TV and appraise ways of tackling it.

Digital divide

Speaking before a House of Commons' committee last month, Lord Carter outlined the government's commitment to providing broadband for all.

"We do not yet get universal coverage and in my view we should have it," he said.

In late September 2008, the EU said it was considering bringing forward its review of the basic telecoms services that European citizens should expect.

The report is also expected to show that the digital divide is no longer a geographical issue with towns connected and rural areas cut off. Instead areas of digital exclusion are likely to mirror those of social deprivation.

However, broadband experts have warned that any moves to create next generation networks that run at very high speeds may only serve to deepen the digital divides in the UK.

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