The Westminster e-forum was addressed by Tim Johnson of Point Topic who highlighted the disparity in planned spending by the UK on broadband infrastructure and that of France. Also going on to suggest that the Con/Lib coalition Government's £40 billion infrastructure investment programme could have its priorities switched about to provide some more funding for broadband infrastructure improvements.
"Broadband helps more people, provides more benefits per pound and is greener than even the most modern railway, George Osborne needs to shave another billion or so out of other investment programmes to give us a truly modern economy."Point Topic Chief Analyst Tim Johnson
France is looking to spend some £570 million of public money per year up to 2025 to meet their broadband targets, which eclipses the UK spending. The issue of the benefits of broadband is key. Too often broadband is seen as being anti-social, and to the remit of teenagers locked in their room suffering from RSI due to playing console games 24/7. The reality is that reliable and fast broadband has the potential to reduce the number of car journeys made, both through home working and areas like online shopping. With the rising cost of both public and private transport, those living outside the major cities will the be most aware of how much it costs to do the weekly shop.
What has been interesting is that there has been a lot less in terms of complaints about how the extra £300m for the UK broadband fund was raised from the TV licence, rather than the previous Governments idea of a levy on telephone lines. Perhaps there is scope to raise more money this way, both by increasing the time period to slice money from the TV licence, and even increasing it. A 3% rise in the TV licence would raise something like £100 million in the first year, which if sustained until 2020 on top of the existing proprosals would allow the UK to possibly have broadband coverage and speeds that really were the best in Europe.