Lastminute.com founder and web 2.0 celebrity Martha Lane Fox has been appointed a “digital champion” by the government to help increase broadband access among the 17 million Britons, mainly the elderly and unemployed, who don’t currently have it. The newly re-branded Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS) wouldn’t confirm or deny Lane Fox’s role today — an official told me “nothing has been announced yet”, but added that there will be a digital inclusion appointment announced on Tuesday as part of Lord Carter’s Digital Britain launch.
Telegraph.co.uk and Computerweekly.com both report the appointment, with the latter saying she attended her first official engagement in the role in London on Monday at a meeting of charities and senior civil servants.
There’s no doubt the government needs something to boost the up-take of broadband: while next Tuesday’s Digital Britain report will (hopefully) pave the way for the upgrading of the UK’s ADSL and wireless broadband networks and give commercial incentives for ISPs and telcos to do it, the truth is that many people just don’t want broadband. An Ofcom report this week found that while 70 percent of UK adults have a home internet connection, 42 percent of those without one don’t want one nor have any plans to get one. Perhaps a successful web entrepreneur can help change people’s minds.