The Communications Committee of the House of Lords, the UK parliament’s upper house, has attacked the government’s broadband strategy but has in turn been criticised for its recommendations.
Committee chairman Lord Inglewood said the government’s strategy to deliver the best superfast broadband network in Europe by 2015 “lacks just that – strategy”.
He added: “The complex issues involved were not thought through from first principle and it is far from clear that the government’s policy will deliver the broadband infrastructure that we need.”
The government’s goal is to provide superfast broadband to at least 90 per cent of premises in the UK and to provide universal access to standard broadband with a speed of at least 2Mbps.
But the Committee said the government is “preoccupied” with speed rather than access.
“Future broadband policy should not be built around precise speed targets end-users can expect to receive in the short-term, however attractive these may be for sloganeers,” it said.
Instead, it proposes the creation of a robust and resilient national network that brings “open access fibre-optic hubs within reach of every community”.
Government policy on broadband should be driven by the need to arrest and ultimately reduce a damaging digital divide, it added.
However, the report does not include “detailed costings”.
Ovum’s Matthew Howett said some of the recommendations were “questionable” while aspects of the wider report were “simply odd”.
"Some recommendations appear to ignore the fact that access to BT's network (both copper and fiber) is already available on equivalent and non-discriminatory terms and that winners of BDUK funding must provide open wholesale access to their networks,” he said.
“Despite criticizing the government for dismissing technologies such as white space, it fails to make almost any mention of how mobile might contribute to bringing broadband to all areas of the UK.”
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