Government has no strategy on broadband rollout, Lords claim

THE GOVERNMENT lacks a clear vision on bringing high speed internet connections to the country, a damning Lords committee says today, despite the coalition having promised to make the UK’s broadband infrastructure a national priority.

According to the House of Lords communications committee, the government’s broadband plans could end up being “a tremendous missed opportunity” and network regulator Ofcom needs to make significant changes to the way broadband is delivered to homes.

The committee’s chairman Lord Inglewood said that the country’s internet network is “a strategic, national asset” but that “the government’s strategy lacks just that – strategy”.

He said: “It is far from clear that the government’s policy will deliver the broadband infrastructure that we need for profound social and economic reasons.”

The committee says that instead of the government’s programme of rolling out existing networks to remote areas, the whole internet infrastructure should be revamped. This includes making a state-owned high-speed network available for use by competing providers, providing wireless rather than cable access in some remote areas, and transferring the terrestrial television network from radio waves to internet delivery.

The coalition said in 2010 it wanted to deliver the fastest broadband network in Europe by 2015 with nine in 10 homes achieving speeds of 24 megabits per second (mbps), yet the UK currently ranks 17th. Fourteen per cent of homes cannot even reach 2mbps connections.

The government will review the committee’s proposals before reporting back later this year.