House of Commons talks broadband
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.