Digital Britain: PM says IT skills, broadband are 'backbone' of recovery

Gordon Brown has said the expansion of high-speed broadband and the country's base of IT skills will be the "backbone" of the UK's recovery from the recession.

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Gordon Brown has said the expansion of high-speed broadband and the country's base of IT skills will be the "backbone" of the UK's recovery from the recession.

Digital Britain: PM says IT skills, broadband are 'backbone' of recoveryThe prime minister, speaking at a summit in the British Library on Lord Carter's Digital Britain report, said that "out of this downturn, we must build the digital infrastructure of our future economy". The Digital Britain report said the UK will have universal broadband by 2012.

In the recent G20 summit of world leaders, where attendees included US president Barack Obama, digital infrastructure had been a large point of discussion, he said.

The universal right to internet access was a "vital first stepping stone" to a digital society, he said, singling out Virgin and BT for working on the rollout of high speed broadband networks. The UK was pushing for a change to European Union law to create a broadband guarantee, he said.

Speaking as the job market becomes ever tighter, the prime minister said IT skills were vital in the country's economic recovery. "The knowledge based economy is a key element of Digital Britain," he said. More courses in IT skills were needed.

A "digital revolution" would help with a range of benefits from "avoiding car crashes to linking residents and police together".

"We should have confidence that we can develop the skills, talent and the creativity for the digital age," he said, adding that the UK would provide IT and knowledge services to "every country" around the world.

Trade secretary Lord Mandelson hinted at possible government investment, but said the government should not displace the private sector where it can do a better job.

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