Ed Richards, chief executive at Ofcom, has stated that over half of the UK population that could afford broadband does not have it. Why? Because they don't want it. Richards calls them "self-excluded". We like to call them 'difficult' because, one way or the other, the government, local government and even TV personalities have done something to bring a Digital Britain to their doorsteps. With varying degrees of success...
1. Throw money and speed at the problem
Just this month BT proudly announced that it is installing fibre optic connections between exchanges and cabinets in Glasgow and Edinburgh. Some 34,000 customers will have access to download speeds of up to 40Mbit/s. This is not all. BT has more money to throw at the situation - £1.5bn by 2012 to be exact - and aims to take the service to 40 per cent of UK homes. But will they be the right 40 per cent? Time will tell.
2. Throw less money at the problem
Way back in 2000, once all the fuss about the bug thing had died down, then e-minister Patricia Hewitt launched a web portal for tech startups, and a venture capital startup fund. The money behind this huge, blue sky, early days, push-the-envelope programme? £5m. That must have bought a few promotional mouse mats.
3. On the street where you live
Once upon a time, BT decided that putting internet kiosks on UK high streets was a good way to grant web access. It toyed with the idea for four years, even rolling out 1,300 of the units. Sadly, it abandoned its plans in 2006 for " commercial reasons", and the nation's tramps moved slightly further down the road to find a more conventional place to do their business. More whiffy than Wi-Fi.
4. Won't somebody think of the children?
In Wales the coalition Labour-Plaid Cymru Welsh Assembly Government has promised, and budgeted for, free laptops for every 11 year-old. There is a catch though: the children still have to be at school. Those penny pinching Welsh!
Libraries provide internet services to people who don't have any other way of accessing them. Unfortunately, in some cases this lack of access is probably a good thing. In 2005, the UK's Internet Watch Foundation was prompted to warn about the public's possible indiscretions after one man - Welsh I'm afraid - was caught downloading pornography in his local library.
6. Government as laptop maker?
In 2005 Tony Blair and Patricia Hewitt announced plans to launch a low-cost national laptop. A national laptop? Like a bowler hat? That sounds a confusing proposition. It's no wonder it still hasn't appeared.
7. I'm a celebrity, get me involved in this
Dr Tanya Byron's Safer Children in a Digital World report panicked parents into joining social networking sites as a means of keeping an eye on their offspring's online behaviour, instantly rendering it less cool. The report also contained the news that there is content available online that may be inappropriate for children. Money well earned there, then.
8. The nays have it
Early e-voting trials in the UK were seen as deeply flawed by academics. Back in 2003 one even said that all of the voting mecha nisms he had seen had some sort of failing, with one apparently violating its own security systems. The worst e-voting plan sounds like the SMS option to us. LOL!
9. Hang on, lads, I've got a great idea
Leave it to the Geordies to think of putting a couple of workstations into a van so that they can be driven around local communities offering services. It sounds silly now, but back in 2001 it was probably pretty ground-breaking. After all, this was the same year that the Department of Transport launched a new web site with a massive 1.5GB of documents onboard.
10. Ratings for web sites
The idea of giving web sites cinema-style ratings is so bad that we are afraid that any response we might be able to give would render this site an 18+. So, we merely applaud everyone else who said that it was ridiculous.
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