The Conservative party have vowed to deliver a super-fast broadband network to UK homes by 2017. Is this a case of pre-election carrot-dangling or do the Tories have some concrete plans up their sleeves?
The Tories plan to end BT’s “local loop monopoly” by making changes to the regulatory framework, giving private investors the chance to pay for improved cabling, an approach that has paid dividends in Singapore and South Korea. If investors did not commit to the service, 3.5% of the license fee currently used for the digital switchover would be re-routed to the broadband cause, with aims to become the first European country to have speeds up to 100Mbps.
“In the 19th Century we built the railways. In the 20th Century we built the motorways,” said Shadow chancellor George Osborne. “In the 21st Century let’s build the super-fast broadband network that will create hundreds of thousands of jobs for Britain.”
Jeremy Hunt, shadow culture, media and sport secretary said: “We are currently one of the slowest countries in the developed world for broadband.
“With the Conservatives we’ll become one of the fastest. High speeds will be available not just in our cities but across the rural areas that have been left behind for too long. These regulatory changes will create the right conditions for sustainable growth and ensure that the digital sector plays a leading role in a competitive, balanced economy.”
However, Labour accuse the Tories of “playing catch-up” in regards to Britain’s flagging broadband network. Financial Secretary to the Treasury Stephen Timms said: “On broadband it’s not Britain but the Tories that are playing catch-up. Labour have already announced measures for rolling out broadband across the country – and the Tories have opposed the plans to make that happen.”