Government broadband policy is 'preoccupied' with speed, report concludes

 

The Government's broadband policy has become “preoccupied” with delivering certain speeds to consumers and needs greater focus on access to the internet through a national broadband network, a report by peers has concluded.

The House of Lords Communications Committee warned of the “spectre of a widening digital divide”, stating there was a “very real risk” that some people and businesses were being left behind.

In their report, Broadband For All - An Alternative Vision, the peers said progress was being made in providing enhanced broadband provision.

However, UK broadband policy, rather than being target-driven, could support a national broadband network allowing people to “connect in different ways according to their needs and demands”.

The report stated: “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.”

The report recommended national planning for a “communications network of local, regional, national, and internet exchanges where different operators can site equipment and exchange traffic, all linked by ample optical fibre that is open to use by competing providers”.

Committee chairman and Conservative peer Lord Inglewood told the BBC Radio 4 Today programme: “The current strategy is based around providing certain levels of speed across the country and we're not convinced at all that that is the right place to start thinking about a policy and a programme for rolling out broadband infrastructure.”

He added: “What we need to do is to find a system, it seems to us, that enables people to get what they want and pay accordingly.”

Culture, Communications and Creative Industries Minister Ed Vaizey told Today: “We've set ourselves a target that, by 2015, 90% of the country will have super-fast broadband. Generally speaking, most people define that around 35Mbps speed, but we've said that 100% of the country should have access to 2Mbps.”

On the issue of broadband access, he added: “What we wanted to do is say there's a very competitive marketplace, particularly between the two main players, Virgin and BT, in terms of laying the fibre to people's homes.

“Government intervention is needed for the rest of the country so we've put in place £500 million to support that.

“Local authorities and devolved administrations like the Scottish Government, the Welsh Government can match that, so there's actually about £1.2 billion going into that and there's also additional money for cities, because actually it's worth remembering there are pockets of cities which don't necessarily have as good broadband as they should.

“So there's a lot of public money going in to fill in this gap.”

Mr Vaizey said one of the reasons the Government wanted to move to a super-fast broadband policy was to try to future-proof.

He said: “If we can get the right infrastructure in place for the vast majority of the country - effectively everyone - then those people who want really, really fast speeds can at least connect to a network and upgrade at a reasonable cost.

“I think that would be a good thing to have.”

A BT spokesman said: “This report calls for fibre broadband to be brought within reach of as many communities as possible via an open network. That is already happening with BT making fibre available to a further four million homes alone whilst the committee has deliberated.

“This new network - which already passes 11 million homes and which will soon pass millions more - is open to all ISPs on an equal basis and more than 50 ISPs are using it.

“Companies can also lay their own fibre using BT's ducts and poles should they wish so there is plenty of room for competition.

“This level of open access is unparalleled in Europe and so the UK is well placed to have one of the best super-fast networks in the continent by 2015.”

PA

Suggested Topics
Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
2015 General Election
May2015

Poll of Polls

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Tradewind Recruitment: PMLD Teacher

Negotiable: Tradewind Recruitment: PMLD Teacher A specialist primary school i...

Recruitment Genius: Online Media Sales Trainee

£15000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Now our rapidly expanding and A...

Recruitment Genius: Public House Manager / Management Couples

£15000 - £20000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Are you passionate about great ...

Recruitment Genius: Production Planner

£20000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This fast growing reinforcing s...

Day In a Page

As in 1942, Germany must show restraint over Greece

As in 1942, Germany must show restraint over Greece

Mussolini tried to warn his ally of the danger of bringing the country to its knees. So should we, says Patrick Cockburn
Britain's widening poverty gap should be causing outrage at the start of the election campaign

The short stroll that should be our walk of shame

Courting the global elite has failed to benefit Britain, as the vast disparity in wealth on display in the capital shows
Homeless Veterans appeal: The rise of the working poor: when having a job cannot prevent poverty

Homeless Veterans appeal

The rise of the working poor: when having a job cannot prevent poverty
Prince Charles the saviour of the nation? A new book highlights concerns about how political he will be when he eventually becomes king

Prince Charles the saviour of the nation?

A new book highlights concerns about how political he will be when he eventually becomes king
How books can defeat Isis: Patrick Cockburn was able to update his agenda-setting 'The Rise of Islamic State' while under attack in Baghdad

How books can defeat Isis

Patrick Cockburn was able to update his agenda-setting 'The Rise of Islamic State' while under attack in Baghdad
Judith Hackitt: The myths of elf 'n' safety

Judith Hackitt: The myths of elf 'n' safety

She may be in charge of minimising our risks of injury, but the chair of the Health and Safety Executive still wants children to be able to hurt themselves
The open loathing between Barack Obama and Benjamin Netanyahu just got worse

The open loathing between Obama and Netanyahu just got worse

The Israeli PM's relationship with the Obama has always been chilly, but going over the President's head on Iran will do him no favours, says Rupert Cornwell
French chefs get 'le huff' as nation slips down global cuisine rankings

French chefs get 'le huff' as nation slips down global cuisine rankings

Fury at British best restaurants survey sees French magazine produce a rival list
Star choreographer Matthew Bourne gives young carers a chance to perform at Sadler's Wells

Young carers to make dance debut

What happened when superstar choreographer Matthew Bourne encouraged 27 teenage carers to think about themselves for once?
Design Council's 70th anniversary: Four of the most intriguing prototypes from Ones to Watch

Design Council's 70th anniversary

Four of the most intriguing prototypes from Ones to Watch
Dame Harriet Walter: The actress on learning what it is to age, plastic surgery, and her unease at being honoured by the establishment

Dame Harriet Walter interview

The actress on learning what it is to age, plastic surgery, and her unease at being honoured by the establishment
Art should not be a slave to the ideas driving it

Art should not be a slave to the ideas driving it

Critics of Tom Stoppard's new play seem to agree that cerebral can never trump character, says DJ Taylor
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef's winter salads will make you feel energised through February

Bill Granger's winter salads

Salads aren't just a bit on the side, says our chef - their crunch, colour and natural goodness are perfect for a midwinter pick-me-up
England vs Wales: Cool head George Ford ready to put out dragon fire

George Ford: Cool head ready to put out dragon fire

No 10’s calmness under pressure will be key for England in Cardiff
Michael Calvin: Time for Old Firm to put aside bigotry and forge new links

Michael Calvin's Last Word

Time for Old Firm to put aside bigotry and forge new links