Rural outcry as government ditches 2Mbps broadband pledge

The UK government's Culture Secretary, Jeremy Hunt has scrapped the previous government's pledge to deliver 2Mbit-per-second broadband to every British citizen by 2015, claiming that the plan was impractical.

Hunt has now pushed back the target for universal access to high-speed broadband to 2015.

Rural outcry

The move has angered and confused many, as Hunt had previously claimed that Labour's commitment to 2Mbps broadband-for-all was a 'paltry' one.

"We're extremely disappointed and surprised that the Government has made this decision – they are basically saying it's potentially a further three years to wait and it will just widen the rural-urban digital divide," added Charles Trotman, head of rural business development at the Country Land and Business Association (CLA).

At a meeting of telecoms operators this week, Hunt said: "I have looked at the provision the government had made to achieve this by 2012. And I'm afraid that I am not convinced that there is sufficient funding in place.

"So, while we will keep working towards that date, we have set ourselves a more realistic target of achieving universal 2Mbps access within the lifetime of this parliament."

A significant setback

Sebastien Lahtinen of, said Hunt's latest move was a "significant setback for rural broadband users," while Consumer Focus' Jillian Pitt added:

"Often people living in these remote communities are amongst the most disadvantaged in our society, so there is also a wider issue about suppliers ensuring that broadband is not only available, but also affordable."

Chief Exec of BT Openreach Steve Robertson, predicts that £2 billion of state funding is going to be required for Britain to achieve universal fibre-optic coverage by the stated target date of 2015.

BT has committed to spending £2.5bn to extend the current fibre-optic network to two-thirds of homes, but is calling for increased government support to push the network to all homes in the UK.

Martha Lane Fox, the UK's digital champion, added: "I know fibre rollout is important, but I personally think we can do a lot by hitting the universal service commitment."

Via The Guardian