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January 7, 2013

Broadband speeds not as important as broadband availability

The Policy Exchange think tank is calling on the government to stop focusing so much on broadband speeds and instead focus efforts on those who are still not online.

The report, titled “The Superfast and the Furious” (read the full report here) says that politicians and the government are too focused on providing very fast broadband internet connections when they believe that using tax payers money to help subsidise gaining these fast speeds is not the best use of the money.

The Reports wants the government to stop subsidising broadband infrastructure once the commitments are reached inn 2015 and instead the money should then be used to focus on the people in the UK who are not online. There are reportedly 10.8 million people who are not online with over half of these being over the age of 65. They also believe that small businesses should be helped to show them the possible benefits and opportunities that are available to them by using the internet.

According to a poll of 2,000 people and 500 businesses on behalf of the Policy Exchange  found that:

  • 64% of people think that good basic coverage of broadband for the whole country is more important than getting the very fastest speeds for some areas at the expense of others.
  • 79% think that every household should have access to the internet with 24% thinking that it is fair for people in remote areas to pay more.

The suggestion from The Policy Exchange is for the government to complete the roll out of superfast fibre broadband to 90% of the country by 2015 and have the universal 2Mb speeds available for the rest as minimum, along with an accelerated rollout of 4G wireless internet.
After this they feel that money should then be used to focus on making sure that everyone has access and that they are able to make the best use of an internet connection.

Chris Yiu who wrote the report said:
Successive governments have been right to invest public money in basic broadband connectivity. The government’s current spending plans will extend fast broadband to the vast majority of people. Any further public money should be spent on making sure we are putting this to good use. It’s far from clear that your taxes should help to pay for me to have an even faster connection.

There is no doubt that broadband, both fixed and wireless, makes a major contribution to the economy. But the right person to decide how much speed your family or business needs is you – not the government.


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