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Broadband strategy ‘preoccupied with speed’ – Lords

The Government’s broadband strategy focuses too much on speed and not enough on universal access, according to a critical report form the House of Lords Communications Committee.

They suggest the priority should be to close the digital divide between those with good internet access and those without, rather than aiming for the best possible speeds for only certain parts of the country.

The Government has promised the rollout of superfast broadband by 2015.

The Lords stated that the current strategy is “preoccupied with the delivery of certain speeds”, and recommends instead the creation of a network of fibre-optic hubs, to get broadband to local communities and businesses when needed.

The report found there was “a very real risk that some people and businesses are being left behind, that inadequate access to the internet and all its benefits is actually afflicting their daily lives”.

It reads: “The delivery of certain speeds should not be the guiding principle; what is important is the long term assurance that as new internet applications emerge, everyone will be able to benefit, from inhabitants of inner cities to the remotest areas of the UK.”

The report suggests that broadband should be treated as a national asset.

Conservative peer Lord Inglewood, who chairs the committee, told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: “Different people have different requirement for speeds…What we need is a system that enables people to get what they want and pay accordingly.”

In the March budget, the Government confirmed 10 cities to become ‘super-connected’ as part of a £100m investment, with an additional £50m to fund a second wave of 10 smaller cities.

Ministers hope that the investment will provide ultrafast broadband coverage to 1.7 million households and high-speed wireless broadband for three million residents by 2015.

View the report here:

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