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Final UK Labour Party Manifesto Hints at 300Mbps Broadband for All

Tuesday, May 16th, 2017 (12:33 pm) by Mark Jackson (Score 1,132)
labour political party uk

The UK Labour Party has today published the final version of their Manifesto for the General Election, which is broadly similar to last week’s leak but includes a few changes. One of those tweaks is an aspiration (not target) to roll-out 300Mbps broadband “across the UK within the next decade” (i.e. by 2027/28).

Readers may recall that the leaked document touted a target to “deliver universal superfast broadband availability by 2022” (30Mbps+) and the information suggested that this would be a legally-binding Universal Service Obligation (USO) rather than a virtual commitment, although the language was a little vague. We’ve already examined this and so won’t repeat ourselves today (see here).

However the final document keeps the above target but removes specific criticism of the existing Government’s 10Mbps USO plan, which makes it unclear whether Labour’s “superfast” pledge reflects a legally-binding USO or merely a non-binding commitment.

The final document also adds a remark about aiming for universal coverage of 300Mbps, which is something that was missing from the leak and that came as a surprise because Corbyn has alluded to it in the past (here).

Final Manifesto Quote

We will deliver universal superfast broadband availability by 2022. Labour will improve mobile internet coverage and expand provision of free public wi-fi in city centres and on public transport. We will improve 4G coverage and invest to ensure all urban areas, as well as major roads and railways, have uninterrupted 5G coverage.

On day one we will instruct the National Infrastructure Commission to report on how to roll out ‘ultrafast’ (300Mbps) across the UK within the next decade.

Crucially the reference to 300Mbps doesn’t read like a clear target and is only reflected as an instruction for the NIC to “report” on the feasibility of such an idea. Last year Corbyn talked about his aspiration to foster a “nationwide” Fibre-to-the-Premise (FTTP/H) broadband network, which would have been funded by £25bn from a new National Investment Bank (NIB).

The use of 300Mbps, which is stated without any specific reference to FTTP/H technology, would also give Labour some extra wriggle room as by that definition they could include other technologies like BT’s G.fast and Virgin Media’s DOCSIS (Cable) network into the mix. Sadly we don’t get any specific information about funding or costs for the broadband pledges.

Certainly with enough money anything is possible, although the party would need to be careful because if they simply pumped all of the investment towards BT then that would risk damaging the growth of alternative network providers (Ofcom has been trying very hard to foster altnets and competition at infrastructure level via their Strategic Review).

As usual, always take any political pledges from any party with a big pinch of salt. Now we wait for the other parties to put out their Manifestos.

UPDATE 1:48pm

Probably a bit late but I’ve added a basic poll following some requests.

What do you think of the Labour Party's broadband policy?

  • I like it (64%, 91 Votes)
  • I don't like it (25%, 35 Votes)
  • Unsure (11%, 16 Votes)

Total Voters: 142

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12 Responses
  1. dragoneast

    Father (and Mother, for gender equality) Christmas comes early (or late, depending on your point of view).

  2. craski

    The key word in the sentence “We will deliver universal superfast broadband availability by 2022” is “availability”.

    Technically BT could claim the vast majority of the country already has access to >300Mbps broadband via their FTTPoD product. Regulars on here and Think Broadband know just how high those prices are.

    Availability is a good start but not much use if the vast majority cant afford it.

  3. Smile please

    300 mbps for all brought to you by LA LA LAND ISP free of charge by taxing
    the Rich

  4. MikeHunt

    Removing the fibre tax would be a good start…

    RE Labour: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SyDBsMi7WE8

  5. Paul Pollington

    And just how are Labour going to pay for this?, I know for certain, it will not be the MP’s themselves.
    Oh yes that’s right let’s tax the poor even more, who have to use foodbanks now already, and yes I do work, but on a zero hour contract, Woopies something else I can’t afford.
    This country is going to end up, a country for the Rich only, everybody else will be on streets, mark my words.

    • timeless

      from what l read tax will be raised for high earners, those same earners who have had tax cut after tax cut since the Tories got in.. and while l dont think any government is perfect one thing l do know is that Tories hate labour governments because they are likely to keep billionaires and millionaires from taking as much advantage.

  6. FibreFred

    Surely it isn’t a case of whether you like it or not, I’m sure most will like it.

    The questions are, how likely is it to happen, how will it be paid for, along side the re-nationalisation of utilities etc 🙂

    • eM

      Clearly not going to happen – since Labour are not going to win.

    • timeless

      lm not sure you should make that judgement just yet.. after all it took election fraud last election for a Tory majority..

    • FibreFred

      Have to agree with eM they won’t get in. Having an electable leader is key it seems they haven’t learnt that yet. I won’t be voting tory either BTW

  7. Kits

    Well looking at what they plan on other fronts the chances of many being able to afford such speeds will be zero.

    Since many can get the 300Mbps now and more as news above says 800 homes the promise from Labour is nothing just something to try and get votes. http://www.ispreview.co.uk/index.php/2017/05/880-new-tornagrain-homes-scotland-get-gtcs-300mbps-ftth-broadband.html

  8. ian

    I don’t understand how there allowed to legally make these “promises”.

    There should be legal consequences if parties fail to keep party promises. Im tire of hearing great things before the elections and then a litany of failed promises years later.

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