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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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