Chancellor hints at new focus on the UK’s lagging internet speeds

GEORGE Osborne yesterday reasserted that the UK would soon have Europe’s best broadband infrastructure, despite figures showing that Britain lags behind much of the continent.

The chancellor trumpeted government investment in telecoms infrastructure, telling the House of Commons: “We are giving Britain the fastest broadband and mobile telephony in Europe.”

His words appeared to suggest that the government’s broadband target, which is seeing it invest hundreds of millions of pounds, has shifted from a previous coverage target to one based on speeds, just weeks after figures from telecoms regulator Ofcom showed that the UK has fallen behind other European nations.

Earlier this month Ofcom revealed that the UK had the third-best coverage of superfast broadband out of Europe’s top five economies.

Superfast broadband – meaning speeds of more than 30 megabits per second – is available to 55-60 per cent of households in the UK, behind Spain and Germany. The likes of the Netherlands have near universal superfast coverage.

A Department for Culture, Media and Sport spokesperson said the target remains making superfast available to 90 per cent of the population by 2015.