Coalition delays target for rolling out broadband

THE GOVERNMENT’S target for rolling out superfast broadband has been delayed for two years, in the latest blow to the coalition’s plans to build the best communications infrastructure in Europe.

Danny Alexander’s Investing in Britain’s Future report, which outlined £100bn of infrastructure spending for the next parliament, revealed that a previous target of bringing superfast broadband to 90 per cent of the population by 2015 had been scrapped. This was despite Alexander spelling out £250m in additional state funding on top of the £1.2bn pledged for this parliament. The government is now targeting 95 per cent of the population gaining access by 2017.

Labour responded by saying the government had cut spending plans. In 2010, the then culture secretary Jeremy Hunt had pledged that £300m taken from the BBC’s licence fee would be used for broadband after 2015. A spokesperson for the Department for Culture, Media and Sport said the remaining £50m had been set aside for further spending.

Superfast broadband is one of the pillars of the coalition’s growth strategy but the UK’s infrastructure lags behind much of Europe.