Lords committee says rural broadband strategy is flawed

A Lords committee has criticised the Government's internet strategy, saying its £530m plan to extend broadband to rural communities is flawed.

The money is being spent on a UK broadband network that will not be fast enough to meet the demands of the internet in the future, the House of Lords says, and could lead to a widening of the digital divide.

The Lords communication committee, which has conducted a six-month inquiry into the state of our broadband infrastructure, concludes in its report:

"The spectre of a widening digital divide is a profound source of concern which requires the Government to address its origin with greater vigour than we believe is currently the case."

According to the report, BT is the only company likely to get the public finds being awarded to develop rural broadband, and this would result in a network that will stifle competition and might not be sufficiently futureproof.

Although BT might initially meet the broadband speed targets set by the Government for 2015, the report suggests further expensive upgrades might be needed after that.

Instead, the committee suggests that the Government should look at the cost of creating a national network of "fibre hubs", essentially boxes placed within every town and village which are connected by fibre to the wider internet.

Local communities could then create their own broadband network that could plug into BT's 'pipes' at a set price. BT says such a strategy would be too expensive.

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Andy Clough

Andy is Global Brand Director of What Hi-Fi? and has been a technology journalist for 30 years. During that time he has covered everything from VHS and Betamax, MiniDisc and DCC to CDi, Laserdisc and 3D TV, and any number of other formats that have come and gone. He loves nothing better than a good old format war. Andy edited several hi-fi and home cinema magazines before relaunching whathifi.com in 2008 and helping turn it into the global success it is today. When not listening to music or watching TV, he spends far too much of his time reading about cars he can't afford to buy.