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Defence of the Realm

I had just finished duct-taping a plastic bag around my Yorkshire terrier’s head, following the instructions on ‘How to deal with the threat of gas attack’ found on the Home Office’s new anti-terrorism Web site, when I stumbled across the story on Broadband ‘revisionism’.

Now Broadband isn’t a topic that you might immediately associates with the House of Lords but it appears that on 11th March, the Earl of Northesk asked the Government if it had "arrived at a conclusive definition of broadband in respect of data transfer speeds for (a) the commercial market; and (b) the residential market".

Into the breach jumped Labour’s IT ‘spokes-peerson’, Lord Sainsbury, who replied:

“The Government views broadband as a generic term describing a range of technologies operating at various data transfer speeds."

Does anyone know what this means as it strikes me as equivalent to saying, “The definition of Broadband is Broadband”; a clever tautology that the forensically incisive Robin Cook might be proud of.

You may remember how three years ago, the criteria for an ‘Online’ business moved a little to include the telephone and this of course helped the DTI improve its figures for the UK as a leading information economy. Today, Broadband penetration is accelerating but obviously not fast enough and so two tin cans and a piece of strings may now qualify as a technology “operating at various data transfer speeds”, depending on how tight the string is pulled.

Next time you read about our remarkable Broadband figures, remember that the information revisionists have been ‘fiddling’ with the definition, as they have with just about everything else; crime, hospitals, taxes, refugees and so on, so why should Broadband Britain be any different?

Meanwhile, the dog is having problems breathing and the plastic bag has steamed-up. The Home Office site tells me that the best defence against terrorism is a torch, a bottle of water, tinned-food and a blanket but doesn’t say which colour. Does anybody know?


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