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Labour proposals to make UK the 'digital capital of the world' met with mixed responses from the trade

Industry figures torn on Digital Britain report

The Government’s Digital Britain report has split opinion in the UK trade, with some hailing it as a positive step which will provide a boost to the industry, but others dismissing it as insufficient and ‘short sighted’.

The report, put together by Labour’s Communication Minister Lord Carter, lays out plans to dramatically overhaul the internet infrastructure of the country, and connect every single person to the internet.

Apart from creating a more tech-savvy population and increasing security, many believe such an overhaul will stimulate growth in multiple aspects of the market, boosting sales of the hardware required to realise such goals.

"It will have a tangible, positive effect on the market over the long term," said Leila Martine, Consumer Windows Business Group UK lead at Microsoft. "For example, programmes to improve digital inclusion and broadband access over the next few years should encourage more people to use PCs, and therefore lift sales. Initiatives to improve online privacy and security, aimed at making people more comfortable with going online, will further help boost the market."

Duncan McAuley, VIP purchasing director, added: "Technological advancements for IT products won’t be held back by constraints from the IT infrastructure if the developments do go ahead as planned."

Some also predict a resultant boost to the software market. "Hearing that the Government is committed to increasing our communications infrastructure is good news for both the IT and software industry," said Joanna Kemp, head of software sales at Koch Media.

"With the increase of our communications structure alongside the lower pricing on hardware that we currently have, we should see more and more homes using multiple internet connections and using computers for more areas of their lives, thus increasing the need for all areas of software."

Other see the report less sympathetically. Many have focused on the proposed taxation on landlines that will be put in place to fund the new measures, while some think the plans simply don’t go far enough.

"It seems very short sighted, and doesn’t give any indication as to the long term benefits on how business can utilise it fully," said Adam Harris, managing director of VAR Bear IT.

Keith Warburton, the founder of the PCA, added: "Such talk is cheap and apparently just about all that we can afford. There seems to be very little Government funding available for this ‘digital investment’, with a levy on existing fixed phone lines being used to provide just a small amount of funding."

You can read Andrew Wooden’s analysis of the channel’s response by clicking here.

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