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.