Tories promise 100Mbps broadband by 2017
George Osborne, the Conservative party's Shadow chancellor, has promised the British public that if elected, his government would deliver 100Mbps broadband speeds to the "majority" of homes by 2017.
Calling the scheme, "nationwide super-fast broadband", the Tories plan to allow private investors to upgrade the cabling infrastructure, with rural areas that may prove less profitable paid for by the 3.5% chunk of the BBC's budget currently set aside for the digital switchover.
"In the 19th Century we built the railways. In the 20th Century we built the motorways. In the 21st Century let's build the super-fast broadband network that will create hundreds of thousands of jobs for Britain", said Osborne.
The Labour government currently in power has promised that the majority of homes will have 2Mbps broadband by 2012, a target it is hoping to meet by adding a £6 surcharge each year on every landline in the country, which should raise up to £175m per annum.
The Liberal Democrats, however, have said that the Conservatives are applying "fantasy world economics", with the party's culture, media and sport spokesman Don Foster saying: "Anyone can promise the earth - what matters is how you pay for it. All independent research shows that the market simply cannot provide high-speed broadband in all parts of the country in the short term without investment".
Sweden, which currently boasts an average connectivity speed of 12.8Mbps compared to Britain's 4.1Mbps, has pledged that 90% of its population will be able to access speeds of 100Mbps by 2020, with 40% already having it by 2015.
With an election looming, the normally-dull issue of broadband network improvement is fast becoming a hot topic, and with the Digital Britain bill being pushed hard through parliament before the ballot boxes open, things could prove interesting. We'll keep you posted.