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UK Poll Calls on Government to Boost Broadband Funds for Rural Areas

Monday, April 8th, 2013 (8:09 am) - Score 738

The results from 1045 respondents to ISPreview.co.uk’s latest monthly reader survey has found that 80.8% would like to see the government put more public money into deploying superfast broadband around the United Kingdom (up from 68.8% two years ago) and 62.5% said the effort should re-focus on connecting rural areas first.

At present the government is spending around £680m to help make superfast broadband (25-30Mbps+) services available to 90% of people by 2015 (includes the £150m+ Urban Broadband Fund), yet this will still leave the last 10% with a minimum download speed “commitment” of at least 2Mbps (Megabits per second).

The survey also asked respondents whether or not the country should set an improved national minimum broadband speed target and the vast majority agreed (only 2.8% supported the current 2Mbps target).

Should the UK boost public funding for its superfast broadband roll-out?
Yes – 80.8%
No – 19.1%

Should the UK re-focus to deliver superfast broadband to the most rural areas first (the last 10%)?
Yes – 62.5%
No – 37.4%

What should the national MINIMUM broadband speed target for 100% of the UK be set at?
25Mbps+ – 31.5%
10Mbps+ – 27.5%
100Mbps+ – 25.5%
5Mbps+ – 8.8%
Do not define by speed – 3.6%
2Mbps+ (current policy) – 2.8%

It’s no surprise to find that most people would like to see the country set its minimum broadband speed target at a level that is significantly above today’s 2Mbps figure. Unfortunately, short of an extra multi-billion pound investment from the public purse, it’s perhaps unrealistic to expect some of the more dramatic speeds as a new minimum (e.g. 100Mbps+).

Never the less it’s already clear that a minimum speed of 2Mbps is fast becoming the modern day equivalent of a dialup connection and already struggles to handle the latest content (e.g. HD video streams). Ofcom itself recently suggested (here) that a minimum of 8-10Mbps might be more appropriate, before adding that even this was “unlikely” to be sufficient come 2020.

So far the government has yet to make a firm commitment but there have been some hints that the targets may be re-assessed in the future and if so then we’d tend to agree with Ofcom’s suggestion, which is perhaps what we should have been using from the very start.

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Leave a Comment
6 Responses
  1. Avatar NGA for all says:

    The total public expenditure including BDUK and LA/DA contributions is closer to £1.4bn for rural, with BT confirming a £1bn again this morning in the Telegraph.

    If the final third is c8m premises then this is £300 per premise passed. With FTTC in urban closer to £100 per premise passed (19m for comfortably under £2.5bn), the only debate should be on much FTTP can be delivered.

    The money is being made available by the political process, but we are lacking is transparency on the costs and who is paying for what exactly.

    1. Avatar DTMark says:

      I would venture that the majority of people in the “final third” are actually living in built up urban areas, not rural ones.

  2. Avatar Chris Conder says:

    If the money went to fibre up the last 10% then the increased competition would mean market forces delivered the rest and everyone would be ok. As it is now, the money is being wasted on cabinets which means those near them will go faster but it will do nothing to help those most in need and is a total waste of taxpayers money to shore up the failing copper infrastructure. The article in the telegraph is just baloney and marketing, and the reporter fell for it hook line and sinker, bt are making out they are delivering ‘fibre broadband’ but in reality they are the copper luddites not talk talk. Openreach is the monopoly holding us all to ransom on copper. Aided and abetted by wholesale, and marketed by the corporate millions. Vital vision.

    1. Avatar New_Londoner says:

      Chris
      I’m prepared to bet that even if the whole £680 went to the “final 10%” (not defined by I’m guessing you really mean rural?), then you’d still be a long way short of the amount needed to deliver FTTP to it all anyway. IIRC there was a report on the cost to deliver FTTP to different % of the country fairly recently, but I can’t recall its author. From memory, costs for the final few % went up very steeply.

      As for your other points, interesting to see your numbers showing the amount of fibre installed by Openreach vs TalkTalk (and B4RN for that matter! 😉 ). How exactly are we being “held to ransom” by Openreach? Any why not explain what you mean by “Vital Vision”, rather than make these oblique references?

      It’s great to see most of the aliteration has gone, but making wild claims without any attempt at providing any facts to back them up is not especially helpful.

  3. Avatar Keyser Söze says:

    “Living in built up urban areas” Indeed DTMARK, well at least 6000 in one town in rural Powys.

  4. Avatar New_Londoner says:

    Since the thorny issue of where the money would come from to deliver FTTC/P to the most rural areas, I thought I’d have a crack.

    Why not divert just a few % of the billions of our tax payer pounds that go into the Common Agricultural Policy each year? It would surely be better to put this into CAPEX to deliver something for the whole of the community, rather than to pay the OPEX of farmers – at least this way there would be some sort of return on investment!

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