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Liberal Democrats Reveal 2024 Election Pledge for UK Broadband

Monday, Jun 10th, 2024 (5:28 pm) - Score 1,920
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The UK Liberal Democrats have today become the first big political party to publish their manifesto for the 2024 General Election (4th July), which includes a couple of broadband and internet related commitments. But as usual with these things, there’s a lack of detail in terms of funding and timescales etc.

Prior to today we knew very little about the LibDems position on matters of telecoms and internet connectivity, which is largely because they haven’t, in recent years, really made it into a particularly audible talking point of their party. In addition, the party’s last big manifesto in 2019 was light on detail and included a vague commitment to “installing hyper-fast, fibre-optic broadband across the UK.”

NOTE: Ofcom reports that 80% of the UK could already access a gigabit-capable broadband network in Jan 2024 (here), while geographic 4G coverage stands at between 81-88% for all operators and 85-92% of UK premises can get outdoor 5G coverage by at least one operator.

The 2019 manifesto also talked about prioritising SME businesses in the rollout of “hyper-fast broadband” and of ensuring that “all households and businesses have access to superfast broadband (30Mbps download and 6Mbps upload)“, which we took as possibly being a complementary reference to their desire for a stronger Universal Service Obligation (USO).

The big news today is that the LibDem’s 2024 UK General Election Manifesto (PDF) has just been published, but we couldn’t find any mention of mobile network connectivity. So far as we can tell from their website, the document contains only two commitments related to broadband and internet services:

1. “Ensure that gigabit broadband is available to every home and business, including in rural and remote communities, and support local bespoke solutions so that no property is left out.

2. “Ending the bulk collection of communications data and internet connection records.

The lack of any solid targets, funding or useful detail makes it hard to know how the party’s pledge on gigabit broadband differs, if at all, from that of the current Government’s £5bn Project Gigabit programme, which aims to achieve the same goal by the end of 2030 and is already testing various local solutions in some of the remotest parts of the UK. Suffice to say, this may be seen as merely pledging continuity with the current scheme.

The second point, which talks about the often controversial bulk collection of Internet Connection Records (IRC) by UK ISPs, is a reference to the 2016 Investigatory Powers Act (aka – “snoopers charter“) and the current Government’s work to expand those powers (here). Clearly, the LibDem’s are looking to return to a more pro-privacy orientated approach, which will no doubt attract support among those who feel the Government may have gone too far.

NOTE: Readers should always take political pledges, from any party, with a pinch of salt until there’s more solid detail (something manifestos often lack). We also ask readers who comment on these manifestos to kindly avoid the usual level of toxic and abusive political commentary that sadly sometimes flows from such debates (such comments may not be approved).
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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 X (Twitter), Mastodon, Facebook and .
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Comments
20 Responses
  1. Avatar photo Name says:

    I would add:
    3. Ensure all people in the country are happy.

  2. Avatar photo Yatta! says:

    With the implosion of the Tory party and ‘Reform’ splitting the right side of the political spectrum’s vote, the Liberal Democrats could quite possibly be the next official Opposition party.

    1. Avatar photo Jack says:

      1/3 of labour voters voted for Brexit and according to polls 70% of people are saying immigration levels are too high. In the 7 way debate, Reform was the only party actually proposing to reduce immigration. Not only that, they are the only party actively saying they’ll cut the record high taxes

      Reform actually have many policies that appeal to people from all around the political compass and wealth classes including raising the income tax thresholds and personal allowance which should’ve gone with inflation but instead they greedily froze it

      The libs only gain seats when labour stands down candidates. Reform has been consistently polling above the libs even before Nigel took over. They are the only viable opposition

      I would say it’s very likely that Reform also converts many of labour voters to become the opposition party

    2. Avatar photo Jonathan says:

      The optimistic modelling based on the current polling data suggests Reform getting fewer MP’s than the Liberal Democrats currently have. The Liberal Democrats are also likely to take some seats from the SNP. My own seat which is currently LibDem, would in 2019 on the changed boundaries have been SNP, is likely to remain LibDem, with Conservatives in a distant third and Labour will be lucky to get their deposit back.
      At the bad end of the spectrum the modelling has the Conservatives with ~50 MP’s and the Liberal Democrats as the official opposition by quite a margin.

    3. Avatar photo Yatta! says:

      In response to Jack.

      It’s going to be very difficult for Reform to form an opposition with, if they’re very, very lucky, a few seats.

      As for thinking that people who voted for Brexit in 2016 are still aligned to that viewpoint, you’re mistaken, consistent polling since June 2021 shows “Brexit was a mistake” leading by a significant margin. Even fewer find Farage an attractive proposition.

      Brexit is a dud, even the Tories don’t want to bring it up anymore.

  3. Avatar photo William Wilkinson says:

    I have to say, the Conservatives have done a great job of the fibre and 4/5g rollout. They’ve absolutely nailed it.

  4. Avatar photo Dobby says:

    I guess we now know who Mark supports 😉

    1. Mark-Jackson Mark Jackson says:

      I’ll be covering all the manifesto launches, just like I always have. I’m not tribal or partisan, so am focused more on the practical bb/mobile policies. The LibDems were the first to get theirs out of the gate, so they’re covered, but tomorrow it’ll be the Conservatives turn and then Labour.

    2. Avatar photo RaptorX says:

      Looking forward to it, Mark.

      Given all the big issues like the NHS, taxation etc that gets all the attention, it’s easy to forget just how important our internet access is nowadays, so this is an important area that you’re covering and I want to know what each party offers.

  5. Avatar photo RaptorX says:

    The improved privacy pledged by the LD is a significant improvement. I hope they become the official opposition party and it looks like there’s some chance that they will do. Just a few weeks to wait now.

  6. Avatar photo Jazzy says:

    We all know how reliable their pledges are

  7. Avatar photo Mike says:

    LD is not serious – at least on this topic.

    Labour will continue with the Tory policy (2030 target) imo at least for this election cycle.

    If people want a subsidized broadband we could just introduce a benefit voucher for a broadband at full market value at approved providers or fixed price discount. (ie £10,£25 paid by the state, the rest paid by the customer.) rather than mess around with nationalised broadband which would have a massive cost to the taxpayer or the existing ‘social’ broadband which is run at a loss being run based on companies social responsibility which is not the role for the market – not to mention unsustainable.

  8. Avatar photo Big Dave says:

    The trouble is that politicians rarely have any expertise in fields such as this. Ultimately all they can do is throw public money at commercial companies to make it worth their while in difficult to reach (i.e. rural areas). The vast majority of premises in this country will be covered by commercial builds anyway. The regularity framework is already in place and the altnets now seem to be starting to realise the futility of overbuilding each other and with ongoing consolidation we will have some order in the next few years.

  9. Avatar photo John says:

    For some laughs here are some of their insane manifesto pledges:

    – right of vote to 16 and 17s ( why not also 10 year olds?)
    – Minister of loneliness
    – “take steps to reduce demand for flying” (because how dare you go on vacation)
    – make “misogyny” a “hate crime” (who can even define what this means? Arresting men for saying hi to a woman?)

    1. Avatar photo Yatta! says:

      16 and 17 year olds can work full time, thus be tax payers, 10 year olds cannot.

      Loneliness is a serious issue in society, particularly for older people, which has health consequences. Does the require a specific Minister, probably no. However there are/have been less necessary ones, including Minister for Common Sense [Esther McVey] and Minister for Brexit ‘Opportunities’ [Mogg].

      Reducing demand for flying doesn’t equal stopping people going on ‘vacation’, rather getting more people on trains for example.

      For misogyny to become a hate crime, it would have to be legally defined.

      No, I’m not going to vote Liberal Democrat or a member, I’m a tactical voter who wants rid of the current administration.

    2. Avatar photo Hojo says:

      So the younger generation should have no political power over the decisions which will affect them the most? 10 year olds? Go find yourself another strawman to attack.

      Social isolation (loneliness) is generally seen (after a quick google) to be one of the contributing factors of suicide.

      Less flying? There are plenty of beautiful places to visit on our fare green isles.

      Misogyny? Yeah, I can see a few out-there cases reaching the courts before common sense takes hold. But the heat is in the right place… as long as Misandry is also included.

    3. Avatar photo Harry says:

      Can’t believe people are actually defending this joke

      10 year olds can pay VAT, inheritance, and other taxes. The real reason why the left wants kids to vote is because they believe they have a monopoly on school education. In Germany this actually backfired spectacularly with most of the kids voting AfD

      It is not the job of the state to cure loneliness, it is gross state intervention and misuse of taxpayer money

      It is also not the job of the state to force people out of having a vacation wherever they want. It obviously means they want to tax flights, just haven’t worded it as such because they don’t want to seem too obvious

      “Hate crime” itself is not defined, it is just a political persecution tool. I dont even have to go into specifics when there are countless examples with the weekly london hate marches

    4. Avatar photo Jonathan says:

      @Hojo if a 17 year arrested for drunk driving can’t be questioned by police without an appropriate adult in attendance because they are a child then no they absolutely should not be allowed to vote. They shouldn’t be allowed to drive either IMHO.

      The reducing flying is try and discourage flying within the UK. Please don’t take a plane from Edinburgh to London, take a train instead. It is not about not taking a holiday abroad.

    5. Avatar photo Harry says:

      Yea no, it’s far quicker to fly to Lisbon/Prague/Venice than to take a train to Edinburgh. The touristic offer is much better and even hotels are cheaper

      They don’t specify it so one can only guess but exactly like they pledge to follow the agenda 2030 of banning car sales, they also want to make it very expensive to travel. It’s also not unprecedented with the Tories in 2023 sneakily raising taxes on flights, precisely because they follow the same agenda

  10. Avatar photo Victor Meldrew says:

    I Don’t Believe It! People think differently to me!

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