Lords Criticise Gov Broadband Plans as Misguided

News Article - Tuesday, 31 July 2012 11:24

By: Kerry Butters Category: Connectivity

Government plans to roll-out superfast broadband has been criticised by a Lords Peer Committee as focusing too much on speed and not enough on reach.

The UK government wants the country to have the best superfast broadband services in Europe by the end of 2015. Currently, the UK does not "have a place on the podium”, according to the Lord’s report.

At the moment, Britain lies 16th in Europe and 25th globally in terms of internet speeds and reach and according to the report there is currently "a very real risk that some people and businesses are being left behind, that inadequate access to the internet and all its benefits is actually afflicting their daily lives".

However, digital minister Ed Vaizey said that a "lot of public money” is being spent on the project, especially with regard to rolling out services to rural areas.

Whilst the committee accepted that making broadband a priority was a good thing, they also said that the initial prospectus was "flawed” and that the government had become "preoccupied with the delivery of certain speeds".

"The delivery of certain speeds should not be the guiding principle; what is important is the long term assurance that as new internet applications emerge, everyone will be able to benefit, from inhabitants of inner cities to the remotest areas of the UK," they said.

Vaizey said that the majority of the UK should have decent speeds by 2015 and Liv Garfield, the chief executive of BT Open Reach expressed surprise that the "report was so critical”.

"If you look at it across Europe, we have fantastic coverage, we are the most competitive market and we're seen by many other countries as being the people to follow in terms of broadband access."

This wouldn’t seem to agree with the figures that place the UK 16th in the European broadband ‘league tables’; in fact Britain doesn’t even make it into the top 100 cities around the world for broadband speed.

"In terms of the best superfast broadband in Europe, we don't just want fast speeds. We want the most competitive marketplace and we do have the most competitive marketplace in Europe, Vaizey went on to say.

"That includes price as well. There is absolutely no point having super-fast broadband coming past your door if you cannot afford it. We do want competition on price and we have very low prices."

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