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CLA UK Slams Government Next Gen Broadband Plans as Falling Short

Posted: 08th Jan, 2010 By: MarkJ
ukThe UK Country Land and Business Association (CLA) has criticised Government plans to provide £1bn of investment (from the controversial fixed telephone line tax) into Next Generation Access (NGA) broadband as "[falling] short" because its target of 90% coverage will still leave a significant 10% excluded.

Douglas Chalmers, Director CLA North, said:

"Clearly we welcome the acknowledgement that, without direct public sector investment, those in rural areas will again be the losers, but they still only aim for 90% coverage. If this is to be our best effort, will the remaining 10% ever be brought into the modern world?

A partial solution may actually make things worse. If society believes there is no longer a problem, communications designed for high speed connections will become the norm. Already, too many people struggle when faced with vital web-based services such as tax returns and job applications. Rural communities and businesses are excluded by other people’s superior technology.

Government should adopt the Prime Minister's own view that broadband is a vital public utility. The ‘universal service commitment’ must become a legally enforceable universal service obligation to provide two megabits per second by 2012 otherwise, the digital divide may simply move, and it will certainly get wider."

In related news the opposition Conservative (Tory) party's Shadow Culture Secretary, Jeremy Hunt, has called the Government's 50p per month tax on all fixed telephone lines both "damaging and misguided". Hunt warned that SME's might be "forced to pay up to £1,500 each" and could cost UK businesses £70 million a year.
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