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Labour Party Pledge £20bn to Deploy FREE Full Fibre for All UK UPDATE3

Friday, November 15th, 2019 (7:23 am) - Score 6,420

The UK Labour Party has set out their broadband pledge for the General Election on 12th December 2019, which includes a commitment to invest £20.3bn into rolling out “full fibre” (FTTP) by 2030, nationalising Openreach (BT) into public ownership and if that wasn’t quite radical enough then access to this will be.. FREE.

One of the big curiosities of this election is whether or not Boris Johnson’s (PM) opponents might try to best his already seemingly optimistic targets for complete coverage of “gigabit-capable broadband” by the end of 2025 (here), which at present involves spending £5bn to help those in the final 20% of hardest to reach premises.

Admittedly such competition between parties is to be welcomed, although on the other hand we don’t particularly want to see it being boiled down to rival parties making increasingly flaky promises. One catch here is that the current Government has yet to set out the detail of their plan (i.e. leaving plenty of wriggle room for flexibility on delivery during the GE debate) and rival political parties will no doubt be similarly vague, unless elected.

NOTE: Readers should always take any political pledges, from any party, with a pinch of salt until there’s more solid detail (something manifestos always lack).

The first opposition party to reveal their broadband policy this week has been Labour and, as above, they’ve clearly taken the more radical approach.

Jeremy Corbyn, Leader of the Labour Party, said:

“A new public service delivering the fastest broadband free to everyone is at the heart of Labour’s plans to transform the future of our economy and society.

The internet has become such a central part of our lives. It opens up opportunities for work, creativity, entertainment and friendship. What was once a luxury is now an essential utility.

That’s why full-fibre broadband must be a public service, bringing communities together, with equal access, in an inclusive and connected society.

It’s time to make the very fastest full-fibre broadband free to everybody, in every home in every corner of our country. Making it free and available to all will open up opportunities for everybody, at the cutting edge of social and economic change.

By creating British Broadband as a public service, we will lead the world in using public investment to transform our country, reduce people’s monthly bills, boost our economy and improve people’s quality of life.”

We’ll tackle the arguably easier points first. On funding there will no doubt be a wider debate about the question of how much is needed (some say £30-£35bn, others say £20bn etc.) and where the money will come from. At the end of the day Labour are promising to commit £15bn more to the effort than the £5bn that the current Government has already promised, which will be seen by many as a positive.

Indeed in a normal climate £20bn, assuming some match-funding from the private sector and local authorities (i.e. councils that could afford to do so and there aren’t many with money left to spare now), might actually be enough – more or less – to finish the job. Apparently all of this will be paid for through Labour’s Green Transformation Fund and the cost of maintaining the network will come from taxing multinational corporations such as Amazon, Facebook and Google.

Labour also appear to be opting for the same outside-in approach as the current government. “The roll out will begin with communities that have the worst broadband access, including rural and remote communities and some inner city areas, followed by towns and smaller centres, and then by areas that are currently well-served by superfast or ultrafast broadband,” said the party. Overbuilding existing ultrafast networks in urban areas with public money will require more flexibility in EU state aid rules, which may well depend upon the outcome of Brexit.

Meanwhile the idea of nationalising Openreach (BT) under public ownership is a much more complicated issue (i.e. its impact upon pensions, the question of who takes on BT’s massive debt pile (the public?), shareholders, competition etc.) and one that is likely to result in plenty of legal challenges (this could hamper the fibre rollout until settled). Not to mention a lengthy debate over whether that by itself would result in a better market.

Labour’s Nationalisation Plan

This will be formed by bringing broadband-relevant parts of BT into public ownership: Openreach (which runs much of the existing digital network), parts of BT Technology (which oversees the backhaul network), BT Enterprise (which retails broadband to business) and BT Consumer (which retails broadband to individuals). EE, Plusnet, BT Global Services, BT TV and non-broadband-relevant parts of BT will not be brought into public ownership.

All current workers in broadband infrastructure and broadband retail services will be guaranteed jobs in the new public entity and be guaranteed the same or better terms and conditions.

On an ordinary day nationalisation alone might require a much longer examination but it would clearly be necessary in order to deliver on Labour’s next, and easily most controversial, pledge. “We will integrate the broadband-relevant parts of BT into a new public entity, British Broadband, with a mission to connect the country. Labour will aim to deliver free full-fibre broadband to at least 15-18 million premises within five years,” said the party.

The new entity, British Broadband, will have two arms: British Digital Infrastructure (BDI), which will roll-out the public network, and the UK ISP British Broadband Service (BBS), which will deliver free broadband.

Free Full Fibre for All

Clearly promising a nation that their broadband access will in future become free is going to be popular with some sections of society, although it might have made at least a little more sense had they only promised a free “basic broadband” (2Mbps) connection for all, but instead they made the pledge for full fibre.

At this stage there isn’t a lot of detail but the logical conclusion of this would be the near total destruction of the current competitive market, including all ISPs on Openreach’s network and alternative networks – both large and small alike. Since after all, what operator could reasonably ever be expected to compete against a completely free full fibre rival. Not to mention the huge on-going costs of upkeep, support, capacity supplies and maintenance.

By that same stroke Labour may risk causing investor fright as sources of private investment take flight to the hills, which in turn could have a significant knock-on impact upon the on-going rollout (if the source of funding for all that were to suddenly dry up then it may take a lot longer than 2030 to complete) and the fact that this might actually push the total cost of delivery upwards (i.e. placing it entirely upon taxpayers shoulders).

Admittedly this election is about much more than broadband (Brexit is the dominant topic) and as such issues of internet connectivity will inevitably be significant less important to voters this time around than in previous such events. On the other hand a pledge like this is sure to make plenty of headlines and will open the door to lots of discussion.

Finally, Labour has also pledged a new Charter of Digital Rights, which they say will be “the strongest protection of data and online rights ever enacted.” As ever there isn’t much detail and so very little to judge, but this charter sets out to do the following.

Labour’s Charter of Digital Rights

* Powers for individuals and collectives to challenge algorithmic injustice (where online algorithms cause disproportionate harms to particular groups);

* Powers for individuals and collectives to prevent the use of digital infrastructure for surveillance;

* Rights for individuals to protect access to and ownership of their data.

What do you think of Labours' broadband policy?

  • I don't like it (65%, 397 Votes)
  • I like it (25%, 153 Votes)
  • I'm undecided (10%, 61 Votes)

Total Voters: 611

UPDATE 9:14am

The CWU has given it’s support to Labour’s policy.

Dave Ward, General Secretary of the Communication Workers Union, said:

“After years of neglect the UK lags way behind on full-fibre coverage with just 8% of premises connected, compared to more than 98% in countries like Japan and South Korea.

While the Tories have failed to invest, Labour would build a network for the future and ensure every part of the country shares in the benefits of the digital revolution.

The announcement demonstrates the scale of ambition of a Labour government to connect the whole of the UK with full-fibre broadband in just a decade.

It’s underpinned by a robust plan for investment, good jobs and for rolling out the network to millions of homes across the country at pace.

It will revolutionise the industry with one of the most significant infrastructure programmes we have ever seen and shows what is possible with a proactive industrial strategy.

Labour’s plan to build the broadband network for the future will create thousands of good jobs across the UK.

Rolling out full fibre will require thousands of engineers and will only be delivered with a co-ordinated plan to ensure we have the skills, technology, resources and investment in place.

Labour is setting this out today and it is good news for the industry, public and workers.”

We’ve also had the first comments in from an ISP and unsurprisingly, given that they might not exist under this approach, they’re none too happy.

Evan Wienburg, Truespeed CEO, said:

“This country’s robust and competitive telecoms industry is already working hard to deliver full fibre for all, using a mix of public and private money. Rather than upset the apple cart, we urge whoever is in government to be careful about how they use public money to effect this change and to support the myriad of infrastructure providers that are working tirelessly up and down the country to deliver this game-changing infrastructure to every post code.”

Julian David, techUK’s CEO, said:

“These proposals would be a disaster for the telecoms sector and the customers that it serves. Renationalisation would immediately halt the investment being driven not just by BT but the growing number of new and innovative companies that compete with BT. Full Fibre and 5G are the underpinning technologies of our future digital economy and society.

The majority of the estimated £30bn cost for Full Fibre is being borne by the private sector. Renationalisation would put this cost back onto the taxpayer, no doubt after years of legal wrangling, wasting precious time when we can least afford it. These proposals would be a huge setback for the UK’s digital economy which is a huge driver for growth.

The telecoms sector has delivered increased coverage, capacity and quality whilst household spend on telecoms services has remained flat. Put simply, it is delivering for consumers and UK PLC. Labour’s plans are fundamentally misguided and need to be dramatically altered if they are to deliver the infrastructure we all need.”

UPDATE 9:36am

We’re expecting a lot of comments from ISPs on this one and here comes BT (response is via BT Group = both BT and Openreach etc.).

A BT Group Spokesperson said:

“It should be a top political priority to super-charge the roll-out of full fibre broadband and 5G right across the UK so we can build the digital economy of the future. Whatever the result of the election, we’d encourage the next Government to work with all parts of the industry to achieve that. It’s a national mission that’s bigger than any one company.”

UPDATE 10:09am

Some more reaction from ISPs.

Martin Pitt, MD of UK ISP Aquiss, said:

“As a collective industry, driven by competition, we are already working to deliver full-fibre to all parts of the UK; with many rural communities already enjoying these benefits. Labour’s announced proposals are ill conceived, completely out of tune with reality, slicing and dicing an advanced vibrant industry that will set the delivery of full-fibre back even further. Any sensible Government should be working with an industry, not looking to be on full collision course with it.”

Adrian Kennard, MD of Andrews & Arnold (AAISP), said:

“It makes very little sense, to be honest. I can’t believe they consulted with anyone in the industry over this proposal.

It is almost certainly not actually practical. It would be hugely damaging to the ISP industry as a whole, though does open up interesting options for selling indirect “internet” access (we already sell quite a lot of indirect unfiltered IPv4 and IPv6 L2TP internet accessed via other ISPs, surprisingly!).

Splitting BT up to nationalise some of it would also be a huge challenge – OFCOM have been working on that for a while! There are almost certainly many ways that far less money could be spent in a more effective way to improve internet access (including scrapping “fibre tax”).”

UPDATE 11:26am

Yet more reactions from the industry, although unlike some others Virgin Media has opted to avoid confrontation with the policy.

A Virgin Media Spokesperson said:

“Virgin Media has the fastest scaled network in the UK and has pledged to bring next-generation Gigabit broadband to half of the UK, by the end of 2021. As this commitment shows, private investment is essential to delivering improved broadband infrastructure.

With billions of pounds worth of private money invested in the UK, Virgin Media continues to expand its network, providing competition and choice to consumers. Government policy has a role to play and can help to accelerate broadband deployment in a way that minimises the level of public subsidy needed and provides the UK and consumers with incredible connectivity within a competitive market.”

Andrew Glover, UK ISPA Chair, commented:

“Labour’s plan exposes a fundamental misunderstanding of how broadband is delivered in the UK.

Labour has identified some challenges relating to broadband infrastructure, but has wildly underestimated the costs involved. This proposal would also undermine the huge private investment and existing work already in motion to deliver nationwide access to gigabit broadband.

More importantly, this proposal not only jeopardises the 600+ companies that use Openreach infrastructure but also those investing in alternative and competing networks to provide the services and connectivity that businesses and consumers throughout the country rely on. Our members range from small regional ISPs to household names with thousands of employees and it is extremely worrying that Labour has given no consideration to how their plans would affect them.”

UPDATE: 12:02pm

Lloyd Felton, CEO of County Broadband, said:

“Today’s announcement highlights the importance of full fibre access for all. However, it also shows an alarming lack of understanding about the complex nature of full fibre rollouts and the fact that, unlike by comparison the rail industry that operates rail franchises, the industry has already invested billions of pounds in building its own infrastructure over which the service is delivered, in direct competition to BT.

This proposal would almost certainly lead to delays, or at worst, derailment of existing full fibre investment and new network rollouts. It is a broad-brush, and makes no mention of how customers would be served and supported and provides no recognition for what has been achieved by the many Alternative Network providers who are currently active in providing a competitive full fibre solution.

The competitive nature of the current market in the UK has meant consumers already benefit from one of the lowest cost broadband services in Europe. Broadband is an essential utility and whilst we share the ambition to bring future-ready full fibre connectivity to every home and business, we believe a mix of public and private investment is the only realistic strategy to deliver the service efficiently, without the need to bring significant cost to the public purse.”

UPDATE 12:15pm

Mark Bridgeman, Country Land and Business Association (CLA) President, said:

“The rural economy is 16% less productive than the national average – in part because of poor broadband in huge swathes of the country. Closing that productivity gap could be worth up to £43bn for UK PLC.

So we welcome the political focus on broadband from all parties which shows we are finally seeing some ambition to become a world class fully connected digital nation, tackling the digital divide between rural and urban areas – with all the economic and social benefits that brings.

Of course everyone likes things for free. But it is not clear how nationalisation will speed up the delivery of full broadband for everyone in the country. Under these plans, investment will collapse straight after the election and it will not begin again until the Government is able to complete the nationalisation process. This could take many years and actually slow down progress, not speed it up.”

UPDATE 6:11pm

Malcolm Corbett, INCA CEO, said:

“For the UK to become a world leader in full fibre and 5G, it needs to provide access for all, wherever people live or work and we are pleased to see the commitment Labour has shown to this through its latest pledge.

It is crucial, however, that how broadband is funded, rolled-out and provided is considered, along with the wider impact the plan could have. The UK’s broadband market is currently thriving as a result of infrastructure investors and local communities, alongside the public sector.

£3.3bn was committed by investors in alternative network providers (altnets) last year alone, in addition to investments by BT and Virgin Media. This has led to the deployment of Gold Standard world-class networks in cities and towns across the country, including in previously underserved rural areas, growing from a very low base of about 1% of premises to around 10% today. Accelerating the pace is important and all parts of the industry are working to do that.

While we welcome Labour’s focus, we are concerned that some parts of the policy, for example, nationalisation, will dampen the vibrant market for investment in new fibre networks in the short term, thus delaying fibre roll-out. Free broadband is an attractive consumer proposition but will be costly, could undermine innovation and consumer choice, as well as having a detrimental effect on the service provider sector.”

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Mark Jackson
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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112 Responses
  1. Avatar FibreFred

    Laughable and so desperate.

    So many holes in this plan but let’s start with the most basic.

    Openreach maintain the network they don’t own it.

    • Avatar New_Londoner

      To be fair, the announcement wasn’t just focused on Openreach but covered other parts of BT too.

    • Avatar FibreFred

      And I can imagine that will be their response when they learn OR don’t own it.

      “Oh right we will buy the bit that does then”

    • Avatar Mike

      Unfortunately many fail to understand it’s not free, it’s either paid via inflation or taxes.

    • Avatar Laurence "GreenReaper" Parry

      Ah, but if you were paying a lot in taxes, you’d probably not be voting Labour – maybe Lib Dem. And inflation is too abstract a concept for most of those under 40 to have much experience of it.

      The policy makes sense to the voter inasmuch as it promises to remove a bill that almost everyone pays and have someone else pay for it. In this sense it plays to a broad base – and is more tempting the higher the proportion of expenses it represents. The complexity of financing and delivery is a secondary concern to selling the idea.

    • Avatar Mike

      @Laurence

      That’s what makes socialism so attractive to the average pleb who knows nothing.

  2. Avatar A_Builder

    OMG

    When I turned on the news last night I thought that I was hallucinating.

    On the positive side full Fibre is now at the very very top of the agenda.

    On the more negative side, sadly, I don’t believe in Father Christmas. But my 6 year old does……

  3. Avatar Karen

    But BT is only part of the broadband story. So what would happen to other broadband entities such as City Fibre, Virgin, KCom, Gigaclear, Hyperoptic, OFNL. Some people don’t have BT served broadband.
    Will Labour nationalise those companies too and merged into British Broadband? Or would people served by these other companies still have to pay and become a digitally divided country even more than it is now?

    • Avatar Digital Detox

      BT have 9 million subscribers, according to this site. The next 9 companies have 18 million between them. This just doesn’t make sense.

    • Avatar Adam

      The BBC News story on this it says “Mr McDonnell said that if other broadband providers did not want to give access to British Broadband, then they would also be taken into public ownership.”
      https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/election-2019-50427369

      Not sure how keeping everyone employed is supposed to work in areas covered by multiple providers like Virgin Media

  4. Avatar Alister

    Ridiculous.

    What happens to the alt nets? Do they get privatised too?

    And do Labour’s plans mean that every CP which operates on Openreach’s network (over 600)go out of business because broadband will be free.

  5. Avatar Matt

    Let’s just face it, this isn’t actually ISP news in any way whatsoever.

    It’s pure hot air.

    • Avatar Kilobyt3

      much like boris’ full fibre by 2025. He couldn’t finish his supper let alone a nationwide FTTP deployment done in 5 years.

  6. Avatar Bogga

    Nationalised industries and public sector activities are protected from competition therefore become inefficiently run. As nationalised industries are insured against negative consequences of their own behaviour, as the taxpayer will cover the loses with subsidies. Long-term investment and modernisation does not occur as they would be competing with other government spending departments.

    • Avatar NE555

      Those of us old enough remember how before BT was privatised, the GPO was renowned for its terrible service and high prices.

    • Avatar Rosie The Hat

      Yet Scottish Water seems to be doing well….

    • Avatar Peter

      Welsh water was never privatised
      My relatives in Wales pay considerably more for the same volume consumed than I do in Thames Water’s region.
      Its just yet more disguised taxation.
      As other have said we oldies remember the days of Public ownership of the likes of the GPO and B.Rail not to mention British Leyland and their non existant public “service”

    • Avatar DavidK

      Agreed – and it seems crazy to be locked into one technology with taxpayers’ money which in 10 years’ time could (or will) be superseded. 5G, 6G, who knows?

      In answer to Peter’s comment “Welsh water was never privatised”, the Welsh water companies were privatised into Hyder plc in the 90s. That was a shambles, it went bust, and from that, the not-for-profit Glas Cymru/Welsh Water emerged, which is a company limited by guarantee. It is an interesting model.

    • Avatar Laurence "GreenReaper" Parry

      Fibre is a little different inasmuch as it is a new conduit like copper cable, not just the choice of a new ISP.

      Think back to the history of copper as a data substrate. Initially you could just send a few hundred bits a second down the line. Today you might be able to send a hundred megabits- or ten, or at least one. A factor of at *least* 1000, even for very long lines, and in many cases closer to a million.

      Now, imagine fibre starts at 100Mbps. We already know it can go far faster, you just need the right equipment at both ends. Doubtless that will grow. So a fibre may be enough to support the next forty years of growth. The equipment will get old, but the fibre endures.

  7. Avatar I'm a loon

    OMG even the Russians have given up trying to swing this election. McDonnell’s is managing to do it on his own. Why not free electricity for all, free Gas, free Water?
    Everything should be free.
    They would have to privatise every Altnet as well as BT and Virgin. I’m sure they will all roll over and let that happen.
    The tax payer would end up having to pay billions for this to happen. You won’t get the money for the tech giants as no one will be able to afford to buy anything from them.
    If this were April everyone would be saying this is April fool.

    • Avatar Peter

      You lot will be glad I’m not a Labour supporter…
      But I’d guess the taxpayer would not have to pay anything.
      If I was Labour I’d take one of two options.
      Take ownership by converting the shares compulsorily by governmental order into long term zero dividend perpetual bonds.
      Do what HMG did in WWII – issue an order which sequestrated your property/land for government use: no compensation payable: effective as of the day of the order. That could be done under the existing emergency powers acts tomorrow.
      If you need a new act also put on a rider on the end that Parliament is sovereign and no court anywhere has the power to overule said act.

    • Avatar joe

      You/d have to repeal the HRA which Labour won’t

  8. Avatar NGA for all

    Think Broadband reported 6.5k premises, rural FTTP by BDUK for Oct. That trajectory says the final 3.5% will take until 2028 using about £800m-£1bn of existing funds.

    I assume Labour are planning for a coalition where all these utterances can be forgotten.

  9. Avatar Alien

    Lol….you have to laugh though….obviously there is more chance of aliens landing , but to see the look on bransons face when this broke ….oh my. Now that I would pay to see 🙂

  10. Avatar dee.jay

    Delusional. Anyone reading this and thinking of voting Labour – think very carefully before the lure of shiny free things makes you tick their box on December 12th.

    • Avatar SimonR

      Whilst it’s a completely impractical proposition, I’m reluctant to cash in the NHS because of it.

      If I was part of Labour, I’d have led the announcement with how Thatcher chopped off a world-leading fibre roll out. And speculated how we’re still paying for her decisions and cash-ins 30 years later.

      I’m not though, and this is a tech site, so you can safely return to the firework. The fuse-paper is dry…

  11. Avatar dragoneast

    Come on children, surely the point of a Christmas election is that everyone competes to be the Father Christmas? Beware of the flying pigs though.

  12. Avatar Andre

    Well, that pretty much seals it for any semblance of sanity there might have been on Labour’s part.

    That only really leaves the Lib Dems as the sensible (if not necessarily credible) option.

    Glad I’m not allowed to vote anyway, I’m curious to see how this shitshow unfolds.

    • Avatar beany

      “That only really leaves the Lib Dems as the sensible (if not necessarily credible) option.”

      I keep hearing from a few that think the lib dems are the sensible option and are going to do well, errm ok… But i will pass.

      Sensible to me is not legally allowing men and woman to suddenly believe they are the opposite sex as and when they see fit.

      Sensible is not pretending you are democratic and ignoring a public vote that took place (not even allowing a re-vote on the subject).

      Sensible is not spending millions on planting trees. Just because you want to say you are doing and spending more than another party that already had the idea.

      Sensible is not giving completely free child care (bang goes anyone wanting to be a childminder or run a nursery/playgroup). Good for the lazy with 20 kids though, that will no longer have to even by an ipad as the babysitter i though i suppose.

      Sensible is also not thinking you can give every adult £10,000 each to be spent on “life skills” whatever that is. If your an adult and you have no “life skills” id be more worried about how you are functioning at all.

      There is a bunch more……

      Oh and as for broadband unless i missed it they do not have any proposals for that yet.

      They seem to be a party that just want to spend a bunch of money on sappy Utopian, unicorn farts and rainbows with no clue or a single explanation which i have heard on where they will get this money.

      Corbyns idea is crackers with regards to broadband and i do not think taxing the likes of Amazon etc to pay for it would work either, but at least he and Boris in that regard can at the minimum give an idea on how/where they would get money for their ideas. Even if we think its nonsense its better than no idea at all. saying that though i am also loathed to give my vote to either of them, for various differing reasons, but giving it to the libs dems NO chance at all.

  13. Avatar chris conder

    priceless. you couldn’t make it up.

  14. Avatar Bordband

    I wonder what the CWU and Mr Selly’s thought’s are this morning? As they are both labour I would imagine this leaves both in a rather difficult situation. Wonder if Corbyn and his crew even bothered to let them know ??

  15. Avatar kds

    as a policy stands It’s a good idea, Not to tax big firms that won’t work they will find an away but I think just to get google amazon Microsoft to do the project and run it that might work.

    It’s win-win for everyone. Google will love the data you produce, Amazon can sell you crap and Microsoft does whatever they do nowadays if everyone have free internet managed by these companies.

    • Avatar David

      But hang on.. Google, Amazon, Costa and other don’t pay tax….

      On the other hand Microsoft does AND Bill Gates pays over the odds personally – he also gives away over 50 Billion a year to his foundation and their projects – and yet still maintains the second richest man in the world (they keep swapping depending on stock)

      Have a look at the “nowlight” by deciwatt – BG was so impressed he’s just ordered enough to cover Africa – and that’s no joke. Kids no longer have to do homework or reading by candle light! The man and his wife are selfless and anyone who reads their Christmas letters will know this.

      Bill Gates is despised by other Billionaires as he is pushing for them to all pay more tax. I am sorry but you can’t possibly compare Bill Gates with the other no tax paying whiners.

      I think the pledge taxing these massive companies who pay nothing is the best thing i’ve heard all year. We don’t have Tories in our area it’s Labour or Brexit Party – so the decision to vote Blue is already made.

    • Avatar Dale

      Please, let’s not make Bill Gates out to be an evangelical ideal of a billionaire. In the early days of Microsoft, under his control, they introduced many of the tax evading and anti competition tactics that most of the big tech companies use today.

    • Avatar kds

      Microsoft doesn’t pay the correct tax If they do why we pay invoices to Ireland ;-).

      you can’t compare Bill gates with everyone else. Man gets money whatever tech we use as they have licences on everything But He is doing something with his money not sure that is correct thing or not but he is at least trying.

  16. Avatar nedmusic

    This is the best thing that Labour has said so far

    Who now in there right minds will vote for these idiots this will shut down every ISP and telecom network in the country making thousands redundant keep it coming Jeremy we will leave the EU.

    • Avatar kds

      NHS is free but we still use private hospitals. It’s only the cheap home isps will go down. Businesses ISP and ISPs that do a premium service will be ok.

    • Avatar David

      Well since BOJO said it there is more Police joining our local force – and a Hospital on the outskirts of Nottingham that was stopped due to funding is magically being built again.

      Whatever people say – the man is doing what he said he would. And if he turns out to be a mini Trump that’s good because as much as I dislike Trump, he did all he said he would when he ran for President – one of the few who actually delivered what they promised. Labour could do well to learn from him ( and that’s no joke)

      Not that I will be voting for them.

    • Avatar kds

      lol, Boris is only doing it because he wants to win the election. He knows London and places who have intelligent people will not vote for him. He is hoping he can win by drumming up-votes from Noth. Let’s see how he looks after the people who vote for him after the election.

    • Avatar Angra

      @KDS
      You have no Idea of how broadband works in this country with a statement like that.
      FTTP will no longer be a premium service like it is now, and Leased lines will come under the openreach umbrella because it is they that maintain and install them.

    • Avatar beany

      “Boris is only doing it because he wants to win the election. He knows London and places who have intelligent people will not vote for him.”

      You mean the same Londoners that are so intelligent and did not elect him as Mayor? Oh no hang on that is exactly what did happen because they are intelligent… Pop goes that theory.

      Corbyn if he has his way will drag us back to the 70’s complete with daily strikes in every industry he touches.

      This idea of his just demonstrate nicely he wants to destroy the private sector no matter how much good they have done.

  17. Avatar AnotherTim

    I really want faster broadband to be brought out to all the areas (rural and urban) that don’t have it. I don’t mind paying for it, and in fact paying gives more control over the particular features you get (e.g. static IP address).
    I despair at the glacial progress being made in some areas (especially mine), but this policy is just going to make it far less likely that I will ever see fast broadband. Altnets will become worthless, nobody will invest in them, they won’t continue their expansions, and it will take years and years before any progress is actually made.
    While I don’t expect Labour to have the chance to go ahead with this, just the threat will be enough to disrupt progress.

    • Avatar RupertP

      With state owned nationalised broadband, all you will get is bog standard broadband access with no-frills at all, if you are lucky. Forget having a static IP – Why would they offer you that when most people don’t “need” it? You think your network connection is congested? Nothing will be done about that either… When you have nowhere else to go and the service is “free”, there will be no innovation, no money to upgrade / improve the network and no incentive to provide even a half decent service.

      Please remember that publicly owned state monopolies have a long history of being run in the interest mainly of the employees who work for them. In the long term, they tend to be starved of investment capital, as they have to compete for investment with every other public sector department. They will be inefficiently run and slow to change anything, as they have no incentive to be any better. They can carry on like this, as you will have no alternatives available to you, as every other provider will be driven out of business by trying to compete with a “free” alternative provider.

    • Avatar David

      Yup – so close to Virgin i can see it out the ids windows (in the pavement) but we can’t get it – and so far no alt net has been interested – VM are extending their network in this area (according to roadworks.org) but we were told no.

      Can only hope someone decides us 380 houses on this 2011 estate deserve internet

    • Avatar AnotherTim

      @RupertP, I think we’re saying the same thing. Unfortunately “Free” and “Worthless” are often conflated.
      As a home based software engineer I have quite different requirements for broadband than a family watching Netflix. One size does not fit all.

  18. Avatar hello

    £20bn won’t even touch the surface.

    Pension liability attributable to OR is more than the cost of OR.
    You need an ISP
    OR don’t own the network
    Everyone will be forced to use BT…

    On the plus side. B4RN will be screwed.

  19. Avatar John Holmes

    Politicians should be banned from using the word Free, nothing is free, you can only change the source of the funds.

    Dread going back to GPO, 6 months wait for a line insyallation.

    • Avatar David

      Eh? Ive had 4 installed since 2015 and each time it’s not taken more than 14 days.

    • Avatar dee.jay

      @David – indeed, because it wasn’t the GPO installing them – BT/OR did!

    • Avatar John Holmes

      6 months installation wait was normal in 60/70’s with GPO, only way to get it quicker was to know someone or know the secret code for special treatment. Of course having access to multiple phone lines quickly with BT also has problems, as Portillo found out when denying he was planning a leadership run despite all the BT van;s outside the office 😉

    • Avatar Meadmodj

      6 month delay for phones and common use of shared service in GPO/Post Office Telephones was the fuelled by low investment for decades, rising demand, supply issues and an expediency based on outdated technologies (Strowger, Crossbar, TXE then System X). History repeating itself. Yes we need full fibre but to get faster speeds short term to the many we need to get 4G completed/upgraded and co-ordinate Full Fibre/5G.
      The Labour plan may be ridiculous but current plans spoil some and leave many behind. Incentives need to promote the right long term decisions. A USO of 50Mbps (rising to 100Mbps by 2025) and a clear long term funding/subsidy mechanism for the first provider to step up may help.

  20. Avatar Optimist

    Broadband in every home will result in state surveillance in every home. George Orwell’s novel “1984” was a warning, not an instruction manual.

    • Avatar johnf

      So exactly like today. Have you been asleep?

    • Avatar dee.jay

      @johnf – nothing like today, yet. One day too we can be like communist China if we all vote for it!

    • Avatar beany

      You can pretty much kiss goodbye to being able to comment on things like this news article if broadband is state controlled. They will not like people moaning publicly about their slow or non-existent broadband. Never mind the “free” cost of it.

      Of course some people just like “free” anything, even if it is a shackled, restricted turd on a string.

  21. Avatar johnf

    This sounds brilliant. Might just be the first time I vote Labour in my life!

    • Avatar graycoll

      There’s always a few gullible low hanging fruit that will be tempted by this. My only consolation is reading about the many that were going to vote Labour who will now vote elsewhere by this news. Income tax will need to go up 10p in the £ to pay for Broadband, Rail, Water and Energy privatisations plus the ending of student loans that Labour promised. Unicorns for all next?

    • Avatar dee.jay

      Please, please don’t vote because of the freebies. It just isn’t worth it. You’ll pay for it some other way, believe you me.

  22. Avatar Wales_LFFN

    Funny how this scheme mirrors many of the proposals of ComWales.net (That were embargoed and under NDA) in early 2019 that were dismissed by the Labour lead Welsh goverment as not feasible!

  23. Avatar Roger_Gooner

    So, we going to get free broadband but there will be add-ons which you have to pay for, like:

    – anything more than 24Mbps download
    – rental of hub or router with no purchase option
    – installation charge
    – set up charge
    – premium phone line for support
    – call out charge

    Not sounding that free now.

    • Avatar johnf

      Sounds a tiny fraction of what people pay today. Until recently I was paying £45 a month for only weekend calls and 10 Mb. So compared to that, sounds pretty free to me!

    • Avatar graycoll

      Johnf – That says more about your inability to get a good deal. I pay £24 for 30mb?

    • Avatar johnf

      @graycoll

      yeah its my fault that BT have still not rolled out fibre in a big city centre, and that I had to hobble along using ADSL2 as the only service available. With such pitiful speeds that I didn’t dare move to another ADSL2 supplier in case it made it even slower.

      The same week Unlimited 4G vodafone was available I switched and now (after cash back) pay £20 a month for 40-50 Mbs. Saying goodbye to BT was a great feeling.

    • Avatar beany

      So ‘johnf’ enjoys choice and being able to change provider but is going to vote for a party that will take that ability away… Makes sense.

  24. Avatar David

    Yip – all installed by a Unicorn…

  25. Avatar James W

    This is all a load of rubbish.

    People can argue that if Thatcher hadn’t stopped the roll out of fibre in the early 90’s we would all be on fibre now.

    But she stopped it because BT would’ve been a monopoly. Which it still has.

    What is really the key to getting fibre broadband installed is giving installers wayleaves. This has hampered installation were I live and most likely many other places.

    Labour should be on the same plan as the Tory’s. Once the law is changed FTTP broadband can be rolled out quicker. Rather than the lengthy task of getting wayleaves signed. Or the grumpy old goat saying no stopping it for the many.

  26. Avatar CarlT

    I can’t help but think the painkillers I took for a tooth extraction a couple of days back may have been taken more than once in error.

    I reckon around about 24 times would’ve done the trick.

    WTAF did I just read?

    If you want state intervention New Zealand and Singapore both showed ways that work.

  27. Avatar Lee Taylor

    “Free” broadband comrades. The Ministry of Truth will ensure that you are safe while accessing the internet. To protect you running dog capitalists websites will be blocked. Oh and tractor production is up again.

    • Avatar beany

      Powered by coal, sweat of the workers and unions, works 24/7 except when they are out of toilet paper every other day and go on strike over it.
      : D

  28. Avatar Mel

    What a stupid waste of money, it will destroy a pretty healthy, competitive industry, would be better all spent on the NHS if they want to throw that much money around.

    I hope they are also going to give every household in the UK a free computer and training as well, so everyone can benefit from it, there are still many people who don’t even have a PC.

    I expect it will end up as a substandard service, as they are apparently drastically underestimating the cost, and the idea, if they win, of a now seemingly communist future government being the sole gatekeeper to the internet with the ability to impose a great firewall of Britain if they wish, to monitor and police what citizens can access is not at-all appealing.

  29. Avatar Call me Cynical

    Free broadband for everyone in the country, eh?

    Nice election bait by the Liebour party.

  30. Avatar Samuel

    I have no comment to this. If anybody actually believes this a good idea, they need their head testing. It will more than likely just end up leaving us in a worse situation than we are in now – typical Labour, desperate for votes.

  31. Avatar Fastman

    wow this is the only thread on ISP Review I can Rembert that everyone seems to agree that this is its pain crazy

    • Avatar beany

      Yep there only appears for a change to be at most one whack job that actually thinks this is a good idea.

      For once no matter our personal love or hate of ISPs or opinions on them which we have all argued on before 99.99% seem to be able to agree this is possibly the biggest crackpot idea an election has ever seen.

  32. Avatar Neb

    Wasn’t going to bother commenting – but as we’re going for a comment count individual posts record…. Madness!

  33. Avatar Matthew

    Isn’t the NBN in Australia Public Owned and while it has had hiccups along the way it has delivered internet for the australian people

  34. Avatar Roger_Gooner

    “its impact upon pensions”
    If there is one thing which we’ve learned about takeovers and mergers is that the pension fund can be a major issue. The deficit is growing as the IAS 19 pension position at 31 March 2019 was a deficit of £6.0bn net of tax (£7.2bn gross of tax). If OR is nationalised who is going to be responsible for the fund and keep pumping in billions to keep it going? With decimated revenues BT and OR won’t be able to fund the pension so it will be the long suffering taxpayer who will have to stump up even though some won’t be broadband users.

    Free broadband really isn’t so free.

  35. Avatar happychappy

    Free broadband but line rental is now £40 a month ;P

  36. Avatar Oh my, this is worrying

    So I appreciate that there are rational and sensible points here from various folk. But I’d like to take this a step further and point out something else this scheme does. It turns the internet into a state owned property.
    Take the time to look up a few countries with full control over their citizen’s internet. And consider what those results might look like if Labour (or by some miracle another party that managed to get into after that takeover) get to choose what you see.
    I’m cancelling my CWU membership in work tomorrow and I’m making it very clear why. They want it back they can retract their statement and actually protect the employees across the many business they are involved with by throwing up a firm rejection of this plan.
    Good luck everyone and let’s hope the brain dead mobs that still believe in a free lunch don’t strip away everyone’s internet freedoms.

    • Avatar Laurence "GreenReaper" Parry

      I’ve seen the laws they wrote on the Internet when last in power; they aren’t pretty. They’re quite willing to pass laws to criminalise stuff if they think doing so will get them votes.

      Thing is, so are the Conservatives – when it comes to the matters of others, all restraint goes out the window. The only person I saw arguing against it was Lib Dem and they got threatened in the committee session.

  37. Avatar stephen adams

    BBC,
    You should read your own news!
    https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/technology-49728302

    8% of UK currently has fibre broadband, that includes those who have only fibre to the cabinet as described by your business correspondent!

    That means 92% of homes have NO access to Fibre Broadband, like me exist on analogue lines.

    Now Broadband providers like my own (Vodafone) are cutting off these customers, as they will only support fibre provided customers!

  38. Avatar Jamie

    Liebour are on the prowl again. The said the same about tuition fees and it was quickly ripped apart.

  39. Avatar Ray Leeds

    This is a joke from Labour, I remember the 1970’s when you had to wait weeks somtimes months to get a Telephone installed from the then Post Office Telephone’s they at the time were under government control It is pie in the sky from the Labour Party.

  40. Avatar Jim Weir

    “Public asked if they’d like something for free”

    https://yougov.co.uk/topics/politics/articles-reports/2019/11/15/brits-support-free-broadband-split-nationalising-b

    Maybe YouGov should have asked if they’d like free broadband at the cost of 100k jobs in retail ISP’s and Alt Nets?

  41. Avatar Simon Hayter

    Anyone else notice how Virgin Media response was purposely worded as ‘Gigabit Broadband’ and not full fibre. Sadly, these companies are fooling consumers into thinking they already have fibre when they don’t, its one big sham, Coybin, is a nutter to say the least.

    • Avatar Andrew Ferguson

      Which will be faster for the consumer? Both have potential to deliver same download speeds to a single PC over ethernet, and one might be faster with all the very best wi-fi kit

      Yes when talking about % of coverage of technology one needs to be clear, but in terms of public experience the difference is more about the ISP e.g. look at Gigafast keyword on twitter to see that FTTP is not always plain sailing

      So if promise is 100% full fibre, including DOCSIS 3.1 is not right, but if talking Gigabit then its fair.

  42. Avatar Jackster

    Well that went down well with the people who know how the industry and infrastructure works…

    Next offer from the Labour party is free electric cars?

  43. Avatar Optimist

    They’d get more votes by promising to end the TV licence.

  44. Avatar Techman

    This is nowhere near as unrealistic and ridiculous as people on here are making out. No doubt it would be incredibly difficult to implement but not impossible

    • Avatar Andrew Ferguson

      I’ve not seen anyone say it is impossible, but when difficult might involve 10,000’s of job losses people will of course be vocal against a plan. Especially on tech sites where lots of posters are now worrying about their job prospects.

      How many jobs across the industry, ball park estimate I did this morning 100,000. No doubt some could get retrained to do the roll-out but how many techies in the industry will elect to retrain as outdoor fibre installers rather than using their tech/IP skills.

    • Avatar Techman

      Surely a lot of those jobs would still be needed and there will still be room for premium paid services

    • Avatar Andrew Ferguson

      What premium services? AAISP might be one to survive but they would be a fraction of size I’d suspect. Since free Gigabit with unlimited usage if that is what fastest/best full fibre means is hard to compete with.

      Also said to be free for business which seems to imply low contention more like the Zen/IDnet and other SME type provider. How big a business it will be free for, who knows but no distinctions made so far between your local garage and a 500 staff gaming firm.

      If lots of the 100,000 are needed then the running cost of £230/m year is even more wrong, since with just Openreach staff wage bill is easily over £640 million, add some BT Consumer and BT Enterprise and ones from other ISP and see where we are heading.

      The good news is we will know while still in the EU for a short whlle and the talent will have a short window to seek work elsewhere in EU.

      Will this stimulate the economy? In terms of online shopping possibly and accelerate High Street problems, but not sure it will stimulate an economy with lots of UK start-ups, or they will start here and once noticed be dragged abroad for investment due to worries about anything that becomes big being nationalised.

  45. Avatar The Facts

    What will happen to existing FTTP networks from eg. CityFibre, Hyperoptic, Gigaclear, Truespeed, B4RN etc.? In detail please.

    • Avatar Andrew Ferguson

      Unlikely the Manifesto will give the detail you need. Best anyone can say at this time is that the existing networks will have choice to compete against the free service or be nationalised themselves. Not many of the general pubic are going to pay for a ultrafast service when there is a free option available of course.

      Another option is Gov pays the subscription fee at a set price and operator continues, but they won’t pay anywhere near the retail that firms charge.

      If a firm chooses nationalisation staff might be protected (hints of this) but if some try and compete you’ll see staff losses as they create effeciences or worse collapse under a mountain of debt.

    • Avatar Leeman

      Nothing will happen to them because Labours plan is a fantasy which will not happen in the form they are trying to make people believe.
      There is free wifi now in most city centers public libraries and other public spots and cafes and that is as far as labour will go.
      They will not pay for high speed broadband into every home and premises. It’s just pure fantasy.

    • Avatar Jim Weir

      Detail on Labour Party website

      “To deliver this we will adopt a public mission to roll-out the remaining 90-92% of full-fibre across the country, as well as acquiring the necessary access rights to the existing 8-10% of full-fibre assets.”

      Acquiring access rights to any current full fibre infrastructure to provide free service!

      I’d love to meet the industry experts & legal team who’ve advised on this plan…

      “Every part of this plan has been legally vetted, checked with experts, and costed.”

      La la land

  46. Avatar The people who will decide your care home

    OK boomers

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