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BT Claims £2bn Funding Needed to Hit Government Broadband Targets

Gordon Kelly


BT Claims £2bn Funding Needed to Hit Government Broadband Targets

Late last month I scribbled a feature entitled Britain's Broadband Backlash and suggested we as a nation were getting sick of flaky broadband services, both on fixed line and mobile. Well now BT has come out and admitted it needs more help...

Speaking to BBC Radio 5 Live BT CEO Steve Robertson said the Coalition government's plans of making the UK the fastest broadband nation in Europe by 2015 will require an additional £2bn in public funding. The plan also guarantees a minimum of 2Mbit connections to every household.

Robertson pointed out that the Digital switchover project currently only sets aside £175m which is a long way short of the funding that is required. "As a society we need to make our minds up about what is an essential element of our social fabric. Today not having broadband makes people feel deprived," he added.

In response Culture minister Jeremy Hunt told the BBC that costs "had been scoped out" and "we should be able to deliver on our commitment... Obviously we are looking for solutions that allow extensions to superfast {broadband}. It would be a short-term fix if 2 megabits was the limit."

Is it just me who would like the term "superfast" defined? What is this magical term? 10Mbit? 20Mbit? 50Mbit? 100Mbit? Because even if it is the last of these figures then we'll still be lagging behind a number of European countries if we only get here after five years.

Yes the problem isn't as serious as the farcical situation with the Digital Economy Act, but you do have to wonder if MPs truly understand what they are talking about... again.


Via BBC News (and yes, we think its redesign is horrible too)


July 15, 2010, 11:22 am

£2bn would seem a reasonable price to pay if every residential dwelling in the UK would have a minimum of 2mb broadband as long as that speed was gauranteed and consistent. Of course only a few dwellings getting the fastest speed would enable the goal of 'the fastest broadband in europe' to have been met. ;-)

A rock solid foundation of a minimum 2mb broadband network needs establishing first rather than any headline grabbing 'fastest in Europe' speed.


July 15, 2010, 1:47 pm

Can't see them achieving a guaranteed 2Mb by 2015 myself, not unless they come up with a novel definition for 'guaranteed'.

I have BT 'up to' 8Mb broadband, although according to BT's own calculator my line will max out at 6.5Mb as I live 1.5Km from the exchange. The reality is very different though. In the middle of the night I can get approaching 6Mb (I do shift work), but during the day (typically 8am-11pm) I'm lucky to get 1.5Mb, presumably because of the contention from other users?


July 15, 2010, 1:48 pm

By putting more people online we can cut this deficit faster as more can use online serivces which are cheaper to run, in general. This government remind of a farmer that wants to sell off his fields rather than plant seeds and rep the rewards later. Short term deficit reduction is not what is needed long term reduction is needed through targeted investments such as these.


July 15, 2010, 1:57 pm

Considering the current government is planning more cuts than a self harm convention I would imagine that the idea of them pumping loads of cash into improving the network as a mere pipe dream. They will leave it to market forces I imagine, which is pretty much the situation are are in now.


July 15, 2010, 3:37 pm

As it happens, I fail to see why I should pay for someone on a farm or village in the middle of the Lake District (or similar rural area) to have "super-fast" broadband. Should I also subsidise their other amenities? If they choose to live in that location, then why should the rest of us pay for them to enjoy that privilege? It is part of the cost of their choice of location.


July 15, 2010, 4:06 pm

@Kaurisol - Why should any of us pay for anything at all that doesn't directly benefit us? Perhaps because there is a perceived benefit to society (as with the welfare state); perhaps because with broadband there is a potential for increased economic prosperity by improving job opportunities and training in more isolated communities.

The rural communities I'm familiar with in the Scottish Highlands don't revolve entirely around middle-class retirees who want to live in a farm somewhere pretty!

... and, of course, you already do "subsidise their other amenities" - they pay the same quarterly rate as the rest of us for their phone lines; the same 1st class stamp gets to their door even if the mail has to be flown to Inverness then put on a ferry.


July 15, 2010, 4:29 pm

Hey BT ! You were privatised in 1984, use your own money.


July 15, 2010, 5:05 pm

I am all for superfast broadband, I use the internet loads, uploading HD videos is a real drag on a 5mb line. But, I fail to see why we should provide the cash for BT to strengthen its monopoly. Private investment is how BT should secure the funds. We already pay enough for our line rentals and BT broadband, oh and the extra £60 they try to charge me every quarter before I ring up and set them straight.


July 15, 2010, 6:32 pm

@ G

While I agree with the sentiment, it is the government making the distinction that every household must have 2Mb broadband and they want the fastest network in Europe by 2015. Private industry shouldn't have to pay for government promises, if I were a BT shareholder I would not like to foot the bill for empty government promises.

Either way, I'm sure BT will lay foundations on a new fibre network in the next few years, but the cost will be massive if the government mandate universal service. If that is the case then the government will have to foot the bill for unprofitable parts of the country, or even the whole network then sell or lease it to telecoms companies.

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