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20 Tory MEPs Call on UK Culture Secretary to Get a Grip on Broadband

Saturday, October 27th, 2012 (8:53 am) - Score 554

Some 20 Conservative members of the European Parliament (EP) have written a new letter to the UK government’s culture secretary, Maria Miller, that calls on her to “get a grip” on the much delayed broadband roll-out and conduct an “urgent review” to boost its speed, funding, scale and scope.

The letter is accompanied by new-ish report from Oxfordshire Business First, which claims that digital infrastructure is now the “key to economic recovery in the UK, allowing the private sector to innovate, grow and flourish“. It also calls for the UK to raise its minimum superfast broadband speed target from 25Mbps+ (Megabits per second) to something higher and points to China’s national plan for 100Mbps.

Report Extract

Nationwide coverage for both fixed and mobile broadband of acceptable performance quality must be the unambiguous objective of UK broadband policy. Judged against this imperative, it becomes increasingly clear that the Government’s current policy strategy based on local initiatives and competition for inadequate funding is contributing to a worrisome digital deficit outside our most densely populated areas. This directly threatens our wider strategy for renewed growth and jobs, and our social cohesion.

The UK urgently needs to put a genuinely national broadband policy in place. One need only observe the strategic priority now accorded broadband infrastructure policy by the governments of Australia, Canada and the United States – to name just three – to gauge the degree to which successive UK governments have essentially outsourced to regulators and local authorities one of the most vital national policy priorities of our time.”

At present the UK government aims for 90% of people to be within reach of a 25Mbps+ capable superfast broadband ISP connection by March 2015, which if achieved would still leave many people in rural areas to suffer slow connectivity. So far no post-2015 plan has emerged, although the UK will eventually need to match the EU’s target for 100% to have access to 30Mbps+ speeds by 2020.

However the new letter, which offers little in the way of truly constructive ideas and advice, isn’t likely to have much of an impact upon the current strategy. This was made all the more clear on Tuesday when the Department for Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) shunned practically all of the suggestions put toward by a recent Lords Inquiry into the UK government’s superfast broadband strategy (here).

High-speed Broadband for all of Britain: The infrastructure priority (PDF)
http://www.obfirst.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2012/10/Digital-Document…

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By Mark Jackson
Mark is a professional technology writer, IT consultant and computer engineer from Dorset (England), he also founded ISPreview in 1999 and enjoys analysing the latest telecoms and broadband developments. Find me on Twitter, , Facebook and Linkedin.
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