The British government today launched a seven-point plan aimed at making the UK one of the most digitally connected nations on the planet.

Secretary of State for Trade and Industry Patricia Hewitt announced the initiative at Downing Street with Prime Minister Tony Blair and John Higgins, director general of UK IT industry trade group Intellect.

“This government has invested in a range of groundbreaking programmes to transform the UK from a poor relation to a digitally rich nation in just a few years,” said Hewitt.

“We aim to make the UK a world leader with public services that are even more responsive, personalised and efficient than the leading companies that have successfully deployed the internet to serve their customers.

“The prime minister’s strategy unit and the DTI, in partnership with industry, aim to make the UK a world leader in digital excellence and the first nation to close the digital divide.”

Among the plans are an award for the local council that provides universal online access to local public services, the launch of a low cost national laptop and home PC leasing scheme for students, and the establishment of a multi-agency national internet safety centre to deter criminals targeting children online.

In addition the DTI has asked Ofcom to look at the prospects for increased home broadband take up, with a particular focus on the more disadvantaged.

“Intel has been working with a number of government departments at central and local levels for sometime in order to provide breakthrough initiatives and huge advances in working practices through digital transformation and citizen access,” said Rick Skett, country manager for Intel UK & Ireland.

“We are delighted to be playing an active role in the Digital Britain strategy to drive public services transformation and provide a competitive advantage to all levels of society. To create a digitally inclusive society, we will be focusing on breaking down the barriers to get communities online.”

The announcement also saw the prediction that by the end of the summer 99 per cent of the UK population will have the ability to get broadband connection speeds.

In order to meet its targets on broadband access the government has reclassified broadband speeds from 256Mbps to 128Mbps.

More here.