While we cannot expect Members of Parliament to understand the nuances of G.992.1 versus G.992.5 (ADSL versus ADSL2+) we do all hope they ask questions that represent what their constituents want to know answers to, and while last week saw some questions asked about broadband the responses were generally less detailed than what you would be told on our user forums.
The full transcript from session in the House of Commons is available online, and The Register has picked up on the hot potato that is whether the BDUK process will deliver its 90% with access to super fast broadband by 2015 target. Interestingly the response appears to suggest that when the expected General Election takes place in May 2015, that the 90% target will not have been reached, but we will have to wait till the end of 2015 (the optimist will assume December 2015, the pessimist the end of the financial year at the start of April 2016).
If you were not following the progress of the BDUK and the independent commercial roll-out you could be forgiven for thinking that the Government had got super fast coverage to a level of two thirds of properties across the UK, rather than the £2.5 billion spent by BT, and the massive investment by Virgin Media (and predecessors) plus numerous other smaller commercial/community projects. The true scale of what the BDUK has actually delivered to date is revealed when the MP for Thirks and Malton asks a question.
"Miss Anne McIntosh (Thirsk and Malton) (Con): Small businesses in rural areas are desperate to access superfast broadband and most of the not spots are in rural areas of north Yorkshire. What are the Government doing to penetrate the 10% of rural areas that have no prospect of superfast broadband by 2025?
Mr Vaizey: I know that my hon. Friend, as the Chair of the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Committee, does a fantastic job in highlighting the need for access to superfast broadband in rural areas. I was delighted to visit north Yorkshire at the end of last year to open the first cabinet. The uptake of superfast broadband from the cabinet that I opened is 30% ahead of schedule and more than 15,000 homes in north Yorkshire have already been reached, thanks to that programme and the Government’s help."Extract from Oral Answers to Questions - Culture, Media and Sport
With no published schedule it is impossible to assess whether the 30% figure is good or bad, though while it is easy to be critical, for the 15,000 who are able to order a faster broadband service the news is more positive.
A free idea to start the week, the BDUK website which now lives at www.gov.uk/broadband-delivery-uk would be a lot more informative to the public if it kept a simple tally of the progress of the projects, and in a language that the public can understand, i.e. number of premises that now have access to the super fast services via the project and how many have actually ordered a service.