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Industry expert comments on Labour party’s vow to offer free broadband for all

Industry expert comments on Labour party’s vow to offer free broadband for all

Digital TransformationGovernmentMobileTelecomTop StoriesUnited Kingdom

The Labour party has revealed plans to deliver fast and free full fibre-broadband in its mission to connect communities across Britain.

The aim is to bring parts of BT into public ownership and create a new British Broadband public service. Labour intends to fund the development through its Green Transformation fund and tax multinational tech giants such as Amazon, Facebook and Google.

Leader of the party, Jeremy Corbyn, issued a speech outlining plans of the announcement, at the University of Lancaster. He said: “A Labour government will make broadband free for everybody. And not just any broadband, but the very fastest. Full-fibre broadband to every home, in every part of our country, for free – as a universal public service.

“And once it’s up and running, instead of you forking out for your monthly bill, we’ll tax the giant corporations fairly – the Facebooks and the Googles – to cover the running costs.”

He believes that the move will open up opportunities for everybody.

Industry expert, Evan Dixon, Managing Director, Viasat Europe, commented on the announcement: “It’s hard to argue that broadband isn’t an essential utility. Increasingly, it is becoming impossible to fully participate in society without a fast broadband connection, and a lack of connectivity is still holding back many communities. Coupled with Johnson’s enthusiasm for fibre, this announcement shows that both parties see this as a major issue for the nation. We may even see this turn into a broadband, not Brexit, election. ​

“However, the fixation on fibre is still a worry. Regardless of whether broadband is subsidised or left to the free market, a true national broadband service needs to reach every inch of the country. Even in those nations with the most advanced broadband infrastructure, fibre cannot connect everyone. Any true national broadband programme needs to use multiple technologies – from fibre to 5G to satellite – to give everyone from consumers to emergency services the connectivity they need, when they need it.

“At the same time, broadband strategy can’t exist in a vacuum but has to form part of a national industrial strategy aimed at making Britain a high-tech nation. And for that, time to deployment has to be taken into consideration. The UK cannot afford to wait 10 years for its broadband rollout. Alternative ultra fast broadband technologies exist today that could connect all Britons. Not only is connectivity essential for a high-tech economy, but supporting the connectivity itself – including investment in faster fibre and satellite technologies – will boost the UK and provide capabilities that can be used across government.

“Finally, it’s important to remember that in the drive to connect communities and close the broadband divide, providing the initial connection is only half the battle. Communities also need the knowledge and encouragement to make full use of their connection, both creatively and commercially, in order to attract further investment and ensure they can continue to thrive.”

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