Rural outcry as government ditches 2Mbps broadband pledge

Fast, universal broadband plans scrapped by government much to dismay of rural internet users
Fast, universal broadband plans scrapped by government much to dismay of rural internet users

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

Adam Hartley