MPs say shift focus to rural broadband

Countryside scene
MPs want more of it to have decent broadband

The Government should refocus its efforts to increase broadband speeds in rural areas where they are slowest, according to a report by Parliament's Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (EFRA) committee.

The report says the focus on rolling out faster fibre optic broadband to the majority of the UK risks undermining efforts to provide a minimum downstream speed of 2Mbps to 95% of the country by 2015, particularly in the face of financial uncertainty.

It notes that the Government has made £20 million available from the Rural Community Broadband Fund to help rural communities in the 10% of areas where broadband connectivity is poorest.

But MPs on the committee criticised the Government's refusal to provide support for communities wishing to put in place alternative schemes that offer speeds of 10Mbps because this would fall short of what it deems 'superfast'.

The report calls for the Government to support such schemes and include a minimum upload speed target that would meet the needs of small and midiszed businesses that increasingly use the internet to share and distribute files.

It also proposes that the Government sets out how many households and businesses are not going to be covered by the roll out of 2Mbps under the Rural Broadband Programme.

The report also suggests that Broadband Development UK (BDUK) and Ofcom consider requiring BT to disclose its costs in the way that permits comparison across contracts in order to allow competitors into the frame after Fujitsu, the only other company in the running, dropped out last year.

Kane Fulton
Kane has been fascinated by the endless possibilities of computers since first getting his hands on an Amiga 500+ back in 1991. These days he mostly lives in realm of VR, where he's working his way into the world Paddleball rankings in Rec Room.