Government broadband policy is 'preoccupied' with speed, report concludes - UK Politics - UK - The Independent

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
Life and Style
tech
Arts and Entertainment
Robin Thicke's video for 'Blurred Lines' has been criticised for condoning rape
music
News
Paper trail: the wedding photograph found in the rubble after 9/11 – it took Elizabeth Keefe 13 years to find the people in it
newsWho are the people in this photo? It took Elizabeth Stringer Keefe 13 years to find out
Arts and Entertainment
Matt Damon as Jason Bourne in The Bourne Ultimatum (2007)
filmMatt Damon in talks to return
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Arts and Entertainment
Evil eye: Douglas Adams in 'mad genius' pose
booksNew biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
News
peopleThe report and photo dedicated to the actress’s decolletage has, unsurprisingly, provoked anger
Life and Style
Bono and Apple CEO Tim Cook announced U2's surprise new album at the iPhone 6 launch
tech(but you can't escape: Bono is always on your iPhone)
Sport
FootballFull debuts don't come much more stylish than those on show here
Arts and Entertainment
While many films were released, few managed to match the success of James Bond blockbuster 'Skyfall'
filmsDaniel Craig is believed to be donning skies as 007 for the first time
Arts and Entertainment
Fringe show: 'Cilla', with Sheridan Smith in the title role and Aneurin Barnard as her future husband Bobby Willis
tvEllen E Jones on ITV's 'Cilla'
News
i100
Sport
Tim Wiese
sport
Life and Style
Kim Kardashian drawn backlash over her sexy swimsuit selfie, called 'disgusting' and 'nasty'
fashionCritics say magazine only pays attention to fashion trends among rich, white women
Arts and Entertainment
TVShows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Arts and Entertainment
Hit the roof: hot-tub cinema east London
architectureFrom pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
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

Project Manager with some Agile experience

£45000 Per Annum: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Our client based in Chelmsf...

Data/ MI Analyst

£25000 - £30000 Per Annum: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Our client are cur...

KS1 Teacher Cornwall

£23500 - £40000 per annum: Randstad Education Plymouth: Randstad Education Ltd...

Corporate Communications Manager - London - up to £80,000

£60000 - £80000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Corporate Marketing Communications M...

Day In a Page

Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
How to make a Lego masterpiece

How to make a Lego masterpiece

Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam
'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

Exclusive extract from Janis Winehouse's poignant new memoir
Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

The Imitation Game, film review
England and Roy Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption in Basel

England and Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption

Welbeck double puts England on the road to Euro 2016
Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Pictures removed from public view as courts decide ownership
‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

Donatella Versace at New York Fashion Week