Analysis of the three main political parties' internet access plans has revealed that they have similar ambitions to provide every UK citizen with broadband by 2012, but their goals differ in the quality of broadband that is to be achieved.
These are the findings from a report released today by broadband information site thinkbroadband.com.
The government made a Universal Service Commitment in the Digital Britain report released last year to provide almost everyone in the UK with a 2Mbit/s broadband service in two years' time.
Both the Conservative Party and the Liberal Democrats support the plans, although the latter has argued that 2Mbit/s is an "unambitious target".
The government and the Conservative Party have a two-stage approach when it comes to broadband - establish universal broadband access and then increase the quality of the service - but the Liberal Democrats believe that the two stages should be integrated.
"It is important to have a minimum standard of service, but 2Mbit/s is an unambitious target," said a Liberal Democrat spokesman in an email to thinkbroadband.com, and seen by V3.co.uk.
"We think it makes sense to combine this project with the rollout of high-speed broadband, meaning that some places currently without any broadband access could receive a next-generation connection."
When it comes to the second stage, which is after 2012, the parties begin to differ more in their strategies.
The government plans to make 'next-generation broadband' available to 90 per cent of the UK by 2017, according to the Digital Britain report and a speech yesterday by prime minister Gordon Brown. This will be funded by a 50p per month levy on fixed phone lines, which is expected to raise £1bn over seven years.
The Conservative Party plans to provide a broadband service of 100Mbit/s to the "majority of homes" by 2017 funded by using a portion of the BBC licence fee after 2012, and by creating more incentives for businesses to enter the market currently dominated by BT.
"We have proposed that BT opens up access to its underground ducts and overground telegraph poles in order that rivals can lay their own fibre and allow a greater degree of competition in the market," said a Tory spokesman in an email to thinkbroadband.com, also seen by V3.co.uk.
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