Making grand statements when implementation is some years away, or a good chance you will never have to follow through are not uncommon in the broadband arena. The House of Lords published a report critical of the Governments schemes, but while they provided suggestions of the right way to do things, there was no detail on how to implement their plan. Perhaps something similar is happening with the Building One Digital Nation plans that Helen Goodman MP has been talking about.
"A Labour Government would switch half the money - £75 million - from the super-connected cities programme to a digital inclusion programme. On the basis of the experience in the previous Parliament, when we found that it cost about £30 million to get 1 million people online, that could help some 2 million people get online. It would be much better to use the money productively. It would have a much bigger impact than some of the infrastructure that the Government have been prioritising. There is no point in putting money to one side because of a legal challenge and not using it at all. It would be far better to help some of those people to get online."Helen Goodman MP - blogging on Huffington Post
Helen Goodman MP is the Shadow Minister of State for Culture, Media and Sport and thus should be someone who speaks with authority on the current oppositions broadband plans. Transferring £75m from the super-connected cities funding in 2015 and using this to fund a digital inclusion scheme for some 2 million people sounds a noble cause but as yet the detail of the plan is so sparse that we do not know if this is just a training scheme to help people learn how to use email, or investment in actual connections.
In this game of politics we should not forget that while the BDUK funds run out in 2015, some local authority projects do have plans going beyond that deadline, through a mixture of delays from EU State Aid Approval to a genuine desire to continue the project to get decent broadband coverage to as close as 100% as possible with the money currently available.
The question now is what will be happening to the £300m that has been earmarked for spending on broadband between 2015 and 2017?