British Tories aim for 100 Mbps broadband by 2017

Conservative party would "break up BT monopoly" or divert BBC license fee to fund “superfast” Internet infrastructure

by Michael Smith (Veshengro)

The British Conservative party has unveiled its plans to improve the country’s Internet infrastructure recently, underscoring the significance of Internet-related policy in the forthcoming general election.

Shadow Chancellor George Osborne told the BBC’s Andrew Marr Show that he believed the UK should become “the world leaders in superfast broadband” in order to stimulate economic growth.

“In the 19th century we built the railways; in the 20th century we built the motorways,” said Osborne. “In the 21st century, let's build the superfast broadband network. That will create hundreds of thousands of jobs for Britain.”

He criticized the government’s commitment, made in the Digital Britain report, to enable 2Mbps broadband connections throughout the UK by 2012. “They have a woefully poor ambition,” Osborne said. “We're talking about 100 megabits [per second], which is a big step forward for this country.”

Osborne said that the best way to achieve this would be “breaking up the BT monopoly… which holds back companies like Carphone Warehouse or Virgin”.

However, if market forces alone could not support the necessary investment, a Tory government might then use money saved by the BBC as a result of the switch to digital broadcasting infrastructure, due to be completed by 2012.

The Labour party said the Conservative party was simply “playing catch-up” to its own broadband plans.

BT is currently rolling out its Infinity service – based largely on fibre-to-the-cabinet (FTTC) technology – which allows download speeds of up to 40Mbps. The service will be available to only 4 million homes by the end of 2010, but the company says it will available to 40% of the population by 2012.

While Britain is still playing about speeds of more than 40Mbps are already common in use in countries such as Finland, even in the more rural areas and Finland is leading Europe, so it seems.

The Tories may be making nice noise, now that an election is in the offing but they have to win that one first and furthermore the question must be as to how this is to be paid for.

While in Finland there seem to be no huge charges for such speeds knowing how things work in Britain we can be more than sure that we would be paying at least a charge of a pound per Mbps per month.

Britain already has one of the most expensive broadband service in Europe with much lower speeds than the majority of of European Union countries, especially those in Scandinavia and the west.

I, for one, am not holding my breath as to such speeds at an affordable rate.

Neither am I holding my breath about the promises to have London and other towns and cities supplied with free WiFi broadband connections for all the residents and visitors. Chance would be a fine thing but I have given up believing in Santa and miracles some time ago.

© 2010