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Jeremy Corbyn Hopes to Splash £500bn on Infrastructure and Broadband

Thursday, Aug 4th, 2016 (2:33 pm) - Score 1,044

The embattled leader of the UK Labour Party, Jeremy Corbyn MP, has promised to spend £500 billion on national infrastructure and use part of it to roll-out “high speed broadband” so that the United Kingdom can “stop languishing behind Bulgaria and Romania,” but only if he wins the leadership contest.

At this point it’s probably worth pointing out that both Bulgaria and Romania have adopted the EU’s Digital Agenda, which means they aim to have 100% coverage of 30Mbps+ NGA “superfast broadband” services (including 50% subscribed to 100Mbps+) by 2020. In terms of Next Generation Access (NGA) broadband coverage, both sat at around 71%+ in 2015 and that compares with 90.5% in the UK.

But the crucial caveat here is with the technology mix. In 2015 the EU calculated that the UK’s fixed line NGA coverage was predominantly delivered by a mix of cable DOCSIS (47%), FTTC/VDSL (79%) and only 1% on the most future proof FTTP/H.

By comparison Romania has 14% covered by VDSL, 58% via FTTP and 29% on Cable (67% are also covered by WiMAX wireless). Finally, Bulgaria delivers 0% VDSL, 28% FTTP, 61% Cable and 65% via WiMAX.

In other words, whether or not the UK is “behind” Bulgaria and Romania depends upon how Corbyn chooses to define “high speed broadband” and whether or not speed is more important than total service coverage. Not to mention other factors, such as affordability etc. As usual we’re not going to get that sort of detail in a set of political commitments.

Similarly the proposal to spend £500 billion on infrastructure is most welcome although, as you’d expect from any politician vying for office, there’s precious little detail on where this money would come from (our economy isn’t exactly in a good state right now) and how much of it would go towards broadband.

Jeremy Corbyn MP said:

“George Osborne cut government investment. The investment that provides a platform for people and businesses to thrive. The Tory government cut research spending by £1 billion in real terms. How on earth are we going to become a strong modern economy if we cut science funding? They cut subsidies in renewables, the energy of the future. Germany and the US are pouring money into this.

That’s why we have announced a National Investment Bank to help channel £500 billion of investment over the next decade … We will invest in the high speed broadband businesses need and stop languishing behind Bulgaria and Romania.”

Corbyn’s full list of 10 pledges has been outlined on his personal website, although he’s got quite a steep hill to climb before being in a position to actually implement them and the general election isn’t until 2020. Otherwise we’re going to steer well clear of the toxic party politics side of things because that could easily send our readers into a terminal coma, much as it would when talking about any other political party.

As a side note the Institute for Public Policy Research (IPPR) has also called on the Government to boost its public spending in order to protect against the Brexit downturn, with calls for this to focus upon digital and physical infrastructure (broadband, transport etc.). Rumours are already circling that the Government may well outline something along these lines in their annual Autumn Statement 2016, but we’ll have to wait a bit longer for that.

UPDATE 4:37pm

We should add that the £500bn commitment would be over a 10 year period and that Corbyn’s leadership rival, Owen Smith MP, has promised £200bn over five years.

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 X (Twitter), Mastodon, Facebook and .
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