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
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
"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
"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."