Broadband News

Labour tries Robin Hood approach to faster broadband

We are glad we have a long memory, as it appears a meeting at the forthcoming Labour Party Conference might end up with some getting the impression the Labour Party plans to put even more money into rural broadband if it was to win the 2015 General Election.

Alas as with many announcements this is just another case of recycling something announced earlier in 2013 when the Shadow Minister for Culture, Media and Sport announced that half the super-connected funding would be removed from the cities and handed to the rural areas.

Sounds great if you live in a rural area but a couple of issues:

  • By 2015 the super-connected vouchers and Wi-Fi schemes may have spent the money
  • Shadow farm minister Huw Irranca-Davies suggests this £75m will help 2 million people, we are not sure what £75 per property will deliver in the most rural areas of the UK.
  • What is DEFRA and DCMS already doing in the most rural parts of the UK via the RCBF fund

The coverage of this new spending in Farmers Weekly is as you would expect focused on the impact for farmers and the move towards an all online farm payments system. In theory the UK has some 300,000 active farms, so if Labour intends to commit the £75 million to just farms and we assume half can get broadband of a reasonable standard for online banking and forms (2 to 5Mbps), then there is around £500 per farm, enough to subsidise a satellite based service. The geographic spread of farms makes it difficult to pool money to gain economy of scale for broadband improvements.

Perhaps the question that needs to be asked is why is DEFRA pushing towards a new payments system, when it knows not all farms are online? None of the political parties come out of the current broadband situation as shining examples of technical knowledge or having a strong leadership vision.


Not to mention the recycling prior to 2010.

Anyway, the majority of the more rural areas of the UK are in devolved government areas, so it's smoke and mirrors.

  • camieabz
  • over 7 years ago

I managed all the cattle passports, SFP, VAT returns and FMD paperwork on 512k ADSL without issue. The money would be better spent on software / form design to make them small and simple.

  • herdwick
  • over 7 years ago

Labour? No thanks, we won't forgive u for the mess u left us all in 2008. Will never vote for Labour. Hope they won't win next election.

  • adslmax
  • over 7 years ago


I have never voted but I will this time just to try and stop them getting in.

  • pcoventry76
  • over 7 years ago

Lots of farms still on dial up Herdwick. Most can't afford the satellite charges even if they were given the installs, farmers round here have to keep them turned off and ban the kids or they run up massive bills. Even dial up doesn't work in many areas due to lines running overland and getting broken regularly. Mobiles don't have signals. What we need is altnets to get funding and deliver solutions the telcos can't or won't. Funding for fttc should come out of bt profits not our pockets. Its all political claptrap.

  • cyberdoyle
  • over 7 years ago

@CD Why should BT, a private company, and its shareholders pay for commercially non-viable connections? Farmers should look to their friends in the EU who many consider to already give out way too much tax payers' money to farmers. I agree that Altnets are the way to go but they need to be paid for by those using them.

  • MCM999
  • over 7 years ago

By the same logic that BT should pay for FTTC the farmers should pay for satellite for their business, like filling stations do.

The VAT refunds or SPS payments will easily cover the £30 a month you can pay for an adequate satellite connection to do the *necessary* things. It is frankly laughable to claim that businesses that might pay £20k for a secondhand tractor can't afford satellite broadband.

  • herdwick
  • over 7 years ago 6% of farms on dialup - 18,000 ?

  • herdwick
  • over 7 years ago

Ok... So why is everyone so fixated on satellite as a viable option? Why not keep going with the "digital pump" idea, and attach 5GHz fixed wireless to that. The kit is not that expensive anymore, and actually works really really well. Use this also in towns where they are not upgrading the cabs, and towns where they have exchange only lines.

  • vicdupreez
  • over 7 years ago

Probably because rural farms can be many miles from any town and also in valleys or shielded by hills.

What is bandwidth available from single 5GHz mast?

  • andrew
  • thinkbroadband staff
  • over 7 years ago

The last pledge at the 2010 General Election from the current Government turned into a failed superfast target. Why speak up about it now - why have Labout been silent on this for some 3 years? They have willingly stood by and watched failure without a word about the rural areas (some of them not so rural).

Then to put 75 million on the table that is as proportionly woeful as the present amounts that have been 'allowed' to be used by Europe is naive.

BT Openreach is doing a marvellous job on fibre roll-out as a commerial concern, The same cannot be said about the UK Government.

  • TavistockSFB01822
  • over 7 years ago

If a business needs a decent connection to operate you pay the business rate, if you can't afford it.. you go out of business simple. BT (nor any other telco) is a charity

Farm's get enough subs as it is, can't believe for a second they can't afford Satellite connections, its just fibre snobbery

  • GMAN99
  • over 7 years ago

How many financially poor people (farmers or otherwise) complain about the state of their broadband?

  • mervl
  • over 7 years ago

Oh Great! mickey mouse accounts from Labour as usual.... spending money that is already committed and likely to been spent by the time they gain office. Just like all their recent announcements will be cash neutral for government spending!

  • themanstan
  • over 7 years ago

@GMAN99: "BT (nor any other telco) is a charity"

Very true. BT should never have received so much taxpayer's money in exchange for no ROI, BT is NOT a charity in need of money. Quite to the contrary: BT Group’s consumer revenue reached £4,449m in Q2 2013 alone, and its reported operating profits topped £659m.

  • JNeuhoff
  • over 7 years ago

I know that paragraph is a bit of a mantra for you, having seen it so many times

But there is a return for the investment the simple answer is that if the money was not made available those areas would not be getting any superfast broadband service for a very long time from a any commercial operator. There is a clawback mechanism if takeup exceeds assumptions and in terms of paying this BDUK money any other bidders would also be wanting to make a profit on their investment and not have to subsidise it from any other part of their operations.

  • Gadget
  • over 7 years ago

In my opinion, (which i realise is flawed) and if I were running things (which is infinitely improbable) Infrastructure buildout should be a different division from BT (which it now is), AND *should* be run as a not for profit. This will give them the scope and opportunity to build the network properly, so that more people can get fibre connections faster, so that BT can sell those fibre connections as wholesale connections to ALL ISP's, making them more cash in the long run. I also realise that this is a very simple approach to a very political issue...

  • vicdupreez
  • over 7 years ago

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