As we head into the 21st Century, internet access seems to be moving far more from the domain of being a luxury and into that of being a commodity. There's even argument that it should be a basic human right, not far from things like clean water, sanitation, healthcare and living quarters.
So I ask, should there be some sort of socialised state internet service? Obviously still keep private broadband companies, but should there be some sort of NHS equivalent for high-speed internet? We're now entering an age where so much is available on the internet, where internet communication and email are so widely used and efficient. Cloud computing is starting to look like it'll be commonplace. People work, play and shop on-line, and I feel that it's starting to become something of a necessity for active members of society.
Potential issues with government-provided internet are fairly obvious. There's the well-documented censorship issues in China and Australia, and also other issues, such as Egypt banning VoIP services to force citizens to make calls through their state-run telephone service. That said, if the government wanted to censor the internet, I'm pretty sure they could just bring in legislation to do that through private ISP companies as well as through their own service.
I also don't think that a state-run ISP should be the only option either. It should work like the NHS, where a free government-run service is there for everyone, but private options are there as well for those who want them.
And whether the internet is provided by a private ISP or not, I think the government should definitely be doing more right now as far as the internet infrastructure in the UK currently goes. We're lagging behind not just countries like South Korea, but also the majority of Europe. Every home in the UK should have the infrastructure in place for a 100Mbit connection, if not higher, regardless of the details of the ISP contract. If people want 100Mbit internet, they should already have the means in place for them to receive it. We're currently behind Hungary and Slovakia for crying out loud:
Fact is, we're moving into a world where fast internet access is going to be an expected commodity, just the same as central heating or a functioning sewage system. Regardless of whoever wins the upcoming election, they need to get their ass in gear and start investing in improving the frankly antiquated infrastructure in this country, because the vast majority of people in the country are connected to the web through pitted, potholed dirt tracks rather than the smoothly tarmacked roads you'd expect from a supposedly modern, G8 country.