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Tuesday, August 28, 2012

UK Culture Secretary Will Push Broadband Need for Speed

Jeremy Hunt has promised that the United Kingdom will have the fastest broadband network across Europe in three years. The commitment in question was announced in east London where Culture Secretary told broadband industry representatives that in order to be the best, they will need to be the fastest. Jeremy Hunt said the announcement wasn’t only about being the best overall, but about being the best in fast broadband of any European country, although the UK “may already be there”.

In response, Labour claimed that the statement was one-sided, focusing on speed instead of access. Actually, this announcement was met with mixed reactions from the local broadband observers. For instance, Julia Stent from uSwitch.com welcomed the Secretary’s enthusiasm but warned there was still a great way to go before the United Kingdom is where it should be. According to the statistics, 30% postcodes have broadband download speeds below 3 Mbps. 20% of British postcodes still suffer from broadband speeds below 2 Mbps.

The problem is that Hunt’s tunnel-vision emphasis on average speed only addresses levels of demand from users for faster connections, but not on rural areas. In fact, many areas still lack good coverage, and although existing in the age of fibre optics, they remain “pitifully slow”.

In the meantime, it was announced that the town of Chipping Norton in West Oxfordshire would get fast broadband access via Fibre to the Premises (FTTP) technology, courtesy of Cotsolds Broadband – the likes of which are able to provide the Internet to communities outside of urban centers.

Earlier in 2012, the UK government was slammed for scrapping the Communications Green Paper, which tried to address maximizing value of broadband spectrum. Thus far, Shadow Minister Helen Goodman admitted that scrapping the consultation revealed the Coalition’s lack of direction in communications policy.

However, the Lords communications committee report said that the Coalition’s plans were misguided. It said that the delivery of certain speeds shouldn’t be the main principle. Instead, the important part is the long term assurance that when new online applications emerge, everybody will be able to benefit – from inhabitants of inner cities to the remotest areas of the country.

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