Page last updated at 17:07 GMT, Tuesday, 16 June 2009 18:07 UK

At a glance: Digital Britain


Lord Carter tells the BBC's Sophie Long why his Digital Britain report calls for phone line charges and punishing file sharing piracy.

On 17 October 2008, Lord Carter, minister for communications, technology and broadcasting, began work on a report dubbed Digital Britain. With it the government wanted to draw up an action plan to help Britain make the most of new media.

The final version was released on 16 June and the wide-ranging report tackles everything from broadband speeds to internet regulation and public service broadcasting. Key points:

• three year plan to boost digital participation

• universal access to broadband by 2012

• fund to invest in next generation broadband

• digital radio upgrade by 2015

• liberalisation of 3G spectrum

• legal and regulatory attack on digital piracy

• support for public service content partnerships

• changed role for Channel 4

• consultation on how to fund local, national and regional news

• a new "more robust system" for the classification of video games

Digital Britain logo, DCMS
The final report was delivered on 16 June

The Digital Britain Report aims to be a guidepath for how Britain can sustain its position as a leading digital economy and society.

But on current definitions, the Digital Britain sectors account for nearly £1 in every £10 that the whole economy produces each year.

We are at an inflection point in technology, in capability and in demand. Those countries and governments that strategically push forward their digital communications sector will gain substantial and long-lasting competitive advantage.

We are at a tipping point in relation to the online world. It is moving from conferring advantage on those who are in it to conferring active disadvantage on those who are without, whether in children's homework access to keep up with their peers, to offers and discounts, lower utility bills, access to information and access to public services.

The government will try to make the net more affordable via the £300m Home Access scheme which aims to get PCs into low income homes.

Set out a National Plan for Digital Participation that will aim to boost Britons' knowledge of the net and which will use social networking and other forms of outreach to motivate people to learn. This will draw on lessons learned from the Digital TV switchover campaign.


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Martha Lane-Fox will become the UK's Digital Champion for two years to spearhead moves to make the UK more tech savvy.

A commitment to deliver the Universal Service Commmitment to ensure that every home in the UK can get 2Mbps broadband by 2012. A range of technologies, including DSL, wireless, fibre to street cabinets and satellite infill will be used to deliver the basic broadband.

The £200m cost of the USC will be met largely by using the money not spent on the digital TV switchover. However other sources, such as contributions from private partners and public sector groups, will likely be needed to reach that total.

To make sure the majority of Britons get access to next generation broadband, the government will impose a 50p per month levy on all fixed line phones. This will create a Next Generation Fund to be given to operators who commit to building fast networks for the "final third" of Britons who may not get them any other way.

Also needed is a spectrum modernisation programme to ensure that mobile networks do not fall behind. This will use spectrum freed by digital TV switchover to provide extra capacity for mobile operators.

To encourage operators to plan for the future 3G licences are to be made indefinite rather than for a limited term.

Speedometer, BBC
Anti-piracy measures will slow down net connections

Regulator Ofcom's powers to be updated to make it encourage investment so services for consumers improve and to report regularly on which bits of the UK are getting left behind as networks are updated.

Work towards ensuring that all national radio stations are digital by 2015. The government will also work with car makers to ensure that in-car radios are digital or produce convertors for analogue sets.

In relation to rights, the Government believes piracy of intellectual property for profit is theft and will be pursued as such through the criminal law.

Ofcom is to get powers that will make ISPs inform persistent pirates of the illegality of their actions. It will also allow these people to be identified and pursued if that action does not stop them. ISPs will also be encouraged to use bandwidth reduction and protocol blocking to stymie persistent offenders.

Consultation will be carried out to see if video game makers should get tax relief to encourage growth in the sector.

Channel 4 will also come under scrutiny to see how it should be funded in the future.

The government will also look into how to spend any money left over from the digital TV switchover that is not being used for the next gen fund and will assess how to secure the future of local and regional news.

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