Liberal Democrat Manifesto and what it says on broadband
The Liberal Democrat Manifesto has been published and it does offer a keyword search for those that don't want to read the whole thing.
An important point to make, we will also cover the Conservative and Labour manifesto's once available and we hope to bring the same level of questioning to all of them.
When voting on the 12th December of course broadband is not the sole issue so it is down to individuals to judge what they feel are the most important issues and which candidate and party in their area will deliver the best prospects for the future.
We should highlight that manifesto promises are not legally binding.
A programme of installing hyper-fast, fibre-optic broadband across the UK – with a particular focus on connecting rural areas.
Reform building standards to ensure that all new homes built from 2022 have full connectivity to ultra-fast broadband and are designed to enable the use of smart technologies.
Prioritise small and medium-sized businesses in the rollout of hyper-fast broadband.
Ensure that all households and businesses have access to superfast broadband (30Mbps download and 6Mbps upload).
Invest £2 billion in innovative solutions to ensure the provision of high-speed broadband across the UK, working with local authorities and providing grants to help areas replicate the success of existing community-led projects.
Invest in mobile data infrastructure and expand it to cover all homes.Extracts from manifesto covering broadband
The hyper-fast roll-out is part of a larger £130 billion spending on infrastructure, it is not clear if the £2 billion for high speed is distinct from any funding for hyper-fast.
While superfast broadband does get a definition 30 Mbps down and 6 Mbps up there is no definition for high-speed and hyper fast. There is no date for when this is expected to be reaity.
The usual definition of high-speed is a connection delivering around 10 to 15 Mbps download speeds and hyper fast when rarely used is Gigabit and faster (1000 Mbps and faster).
There is no obvious commitment to 100% full fibre or Gigabit coverage, and the talk of innovative solutions for the high speed areas suggests a mixture of technologies which if commercial FTTP roll-outs continue to accelerate will mean those with just a high-speed solution will continue to feel left out. Of course a lot depends on which community led projects decide to do with any funding, and the variation in how local authorities decide to spend the money.
The odd part is that the £2 billion for high-speed contradicts the commitment to superfast for all, so it is possible that high speed broadband is the same as superfast rather than usual industry use of the term which on a scale of increasing speeds usually runs like high-speed (10-15 Mbps), superfast (30 Mbps and faster), ultrafast (100 Mbps and faster), hyperfast (1000 Mbps and faster).
Changes to building standards will be welcome news, but with over 80% of new builds in 2019 seeing full fibre as standard the commercial market is likely to get very close to 100% by 2022 anyway. Getting the requirement written into building standards will at least ensure that buyers of new homes can have greater confidence especially when some people commit well ahead of the property being built and necessary services connected.
There is one advantage of a manifesto that is light on costs and speed targets, which is that it is difficult to question whether it is achievable in the budget or timeframes mentioned.