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"Wiring Britain" was the slogan for 1982, Information Technology Year.
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To mark IT Year then Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher set up an IT Advisory Panel. Six wise men from industry planned a strategy for wiring Britain with broad band cable. Kenneth Baker was made IT Minister to see the job was done.

 The wise men said that Britain should be cabled by 1986, with advanced "switched star" technology that allowed interactive computer services. "Broadband cable means much more than an increase in the number of tv channels" said Baker.

 "A cable system enables information to be exchanged between computers, word processors etc at a much faster rate than the telephone system allows, and makes possible new work relationships" said ITAP.

The wise men predicted that extra tv channels would be the initial attraction but once householders were connected they would start using their cable link for business and working from home instead of commuting.

In 1983 the DTI offered 12 cable TV franchises. There were 37 applications and the government felt so confident that only 11 of them were judged good enough to get a licence.

The 1984 Budget phased out capital tax relief on the expensive holes in the ground which the lucky winners would have to dig. Interest in wiring Britain quickly collapsed. Before long the government was begging investors to apply for a franchise.

It took another ten years, and funding mainly from North America, for a million or so British homes finally to get TV pictures by cable. They could get a phone service, too, and connect a computer; but only through ordinary copper wires laid alongside the TVcable. ITAP's dream of high speed data by cable took much longer to realise.












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