House of Lords challenges broadband strategyFocus on broadband speeds is misplaced

31 July 2012

House of Lords broadband review

A new House of Lords report says that government policy on broadband is preoccupied with the delivery of speeds, and needs to focus on preventing a growing digital divide across the country.

The recommendations, published today, argue that targets need to be more strongly focused on access for all, and creating a future-proof network that is built to last. 

The Lords report, titled 'Broadband for all - an alternative vision', says that policy in this area should be 'driven by the need to arrest and ultimately eliminate the digital divide, rather than deliver enhanced provision for those with already good connections'. 

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House of Lords broadband policy recommendations 

Within the report are calls for a 'robust and resilient' national network, that would bring fibre access within reach of every community, including rural areas that can struggle with getting even basic speeds. 

It also asks for Ofcom to be given wider responsibility for monitoring the efficient use of the network, and for Government targets to refer to minimum and median levels of service. 

Current government targets

The government has currently committed to two main targets around broadband roll-out in the UK: providing superfast broadband (speeds of above 24Mbps) to at least 90% of UK homes, and to provide universal access to broadband with a speed of at least 2Mbps. 

The Lords report agrees that the government is right to make broadband a priority policy, yet it disagrees with the way success is currently being benchmarked. It highlights that critical public services will increasingly be delivered via the internet, and without better provision for everyone in the UK, parts of the country could be marginalised, or excluded altogether. 

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