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House of Commons talks broadband
Thursday 14 February 2013 18:16:46 by Andrew Ferguson

While a debate about broadband in the House of Commons is not going to solve all the issues around the topic it does at least show that various Members of the House are raising constituents concerns. An exchange about the Universal Service Commitment (USC) and worries about meeting the variable date in 2015 shown below:

"Helen Goodman (Bishop Auckland) (Lab):
The House knows by now that it was Labour’s policy to roll out broadband across the nation by 2012. The Government put the target back to 2015 and BT now says that it will not be achieved until 2017. What will be the impact of the Prime Minister’s decision to agree the 90% cut in the European broadband budget last week?

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport (Mr Edward Vaizey)::
We would not expect that to have any impact on our own proposals. We are well ahead of the game in rolling out superfast broadband. Most of Europe—in fact, all of Europe—sees us as a leader in that respect. I am delighted that we did not introduce Labour’s telephone tax on hard-working people. Instead, we are delivering superfast broadband to the vast majority of people in this country."

House of Commons debate, extract from Hansard

The response rounds on the old idea of a 50p monthly levy on telephone lines that was part of the original Digital Britain report in 2009, but in 2010 even when Labour was still in power questions whether the tax was the right way to fund the USC target were raised. The question of whether Labour would have been able to fund and get implemented the 2 Mbps USC target by the end of 2012 remains a hotly contested one with Harriet Harman in 2012 still saying it would have been achievable

"BT supports the government's aim of having the best superfast network in Europe by 2015 and we believe the UK is on course to achieve that. Regarding individual counties or parts of the UK, many will achieve their aims by 2015 but it could be the case others will take longer given their challenging topography or the fact they have yet to appoint a commercial partner. BT is deploying fibre at incredible speed across the UK but the timetable for many areas is in the hands of others."

BT spokesperson commenting on USC and superfast roll-out

We ran a poll on the topic of meeting the various deadlines in November 2012, where the majority opinion was that both the 2012 and 2015 targets would be missed with regards to the Universal Service Commitment.

Update 15th February 2013 Updated link to debate as Hansard url changed when they archived the debate.


Posted by babis3g over 4 years ago
The little poor European country Greece ... almost bank rapt, starts offering 50 mb upload (from the begin) with FTTH
By 2017 it will be much more
Posted by New_Londoner over 4 years ago
Whilst its lovely that the people of Greece have FTTP, I bet that rather not be bankrupt, be able to afford food and heating!

Would it really be wise to add £25-£30bn to our national debt just now? Especially when so many can access high speeds already and most are opting not to do so.
Posted by andrew (Favicon staff member) over 4 years ago
@new_londoner if full UK wide FTTP was the end game then it would be over a number of years, just like HS2.

Though that was not what was been debated in the house.
Posted by fibrebunny over 4 years ago
Are Labour really still crying because they couldn't get away with more indirect tax and spend. They had over half the country on welfare and still wanted to get their grubby little hands on more of our money. Off the Government books and straight on to our bills. Harriet Harman can go shove it!
Posted by themanstan over 4 years ago
They'd probably have done some PPP that would have cost £100bn instead of £20B...
Posted by camieabz over 4 years ago
I'm all for a 2Meg USC. In fact, if I were setting the targets, I would be aiming for 4Meg USC, so the 2 Meg figure would be less of hurdle.

Regarding Labour and a long list of 'what we would have done'. Sorry, but it's what you did or did not do that counts. 74% of people interested in such things don't believe it (nor do they believe the 2015 target date).

Just once, it would be nice for a party to give a reasonable 'x' to 'y' date, and own up that throwing extra money at something does not necessarily make it happen sooner.

Will doubling MPs' salaries make them work twice as fast? Ha!
Posted by finaldest over 4 years ago
Less talking and more doing.
Posted by otester over 4 years ago

Not like it really matters at this stage with "top economist" Krugman saying we might as well just keep "kicking the can" since there is nothing we can do stop an upcomign financial collapse.
Posted by ianmcpherson154 over 4 years ago
Why should we pay a 50p monthly levy. BT were making over £90 profit every second over 10 years ago. How much of that money did it invest in new technology?
Posted by themanstan over 4 years ago

and they had nothing to spend it on... OFCOM only granted residential fibre in 2009.

Using it to reduce the prices would have been jumped on by OFCOM as loss leading, which is a no no when you have SMP.

SO they did what they had to do, which is return it to shareholders.
Posted by ianmcpherson154 over 4 years ago

I still think BT could have done something sooner, cable companies have been laying fibre cable for almost 30 years in Britain.
OFCOM only forced their hand with a ruling in 2009.
Posted by Somerset over 4 years ago
@ian - forced their hand? Please explain. Note BT has been installing fibre into business premises for many years for ISDN and private circuits.
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