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House of Lords Launches Inquiry into the UK Superfast Broadband Strategy

Posted: 15th Feb, 2012 By: MarkJ
westminster ukuk parliament on superfast broadbandThe UK governments House of Lords Select Committee on Communications, which is chaired by Lord Inglewood (Conservative Party), has officially launched an inquiry into the country's superfast broadband strategy.

The current strategy calls for 90% of people in the UK to be within reach of a superfast broadband (24Mbps+) service by 2015 (the last 10% will get at least 2Mbps) and for the country to have "the best superfast broadband network in Europe" (this is to be scored on more than just speed).

As a result the Committee wants to know more about the thinking behind this strategy and will also examine its progress. Crucially the inquiry notes that "consumer demand for bandwidth is growing by around 60% a year" and expects that connection speeds of 1Gbps (Gigabits per second) "may be needed" by 2020, which is obviously well above the UK's current target.

Lord Inglewood, Chairman of the Communications Committee, said:

"Superfast broadband is clearly an important development across Britain, not just for economic growth but also because it will impact on how people do things such as view media content, shop and even access healthcare.

We want to look into the Government’s proposals to find out if its targets are likely to be met and whether it is being ambitious enough in its plans. Issues such as investment, Britain’s market in fibre optic products and whether the advances in broadband provision will require regulatory changes are all things that need to be looked at to ensure the strategy works."

Critics have often accused the government of moving too slowly, lacking an ambitious enough target and of distorting the market by rejecting smaller community schemes in favour of ploughing more money into support for BT's existing telecoms infrastructure. In addition the 90% target risks leaving that last 10% in the hands of either slower or more restrictive solutions.

Evidence should be submitted, in an "editable electronic form" as a Microsoft Word document or as a plain ASCII text file (do not send PDF's), by e-mail to holcommunications@parliament.uk. Paper copy submissions can also be sent to - Select Committee on Communications, Committee Office, House of Lords, London SW1A 0PW or fax (020 7219 4931). Credits to Thinkbroadband for spotting this.

Inquiries like this, especially those that are chaired by pro-government peers, often find faults but rarely dig deep enough to result in a significant change. In any case the initiative is now well past the point of no return and seems likely to carry on its merry way for the foreseeable future, although future policy (2015-2020) could still be influenced.
Lords Select Committee
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