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Conservatives: 100Mbit/sec to Majority of UK Homes By 2017

Gordon Kelly


Conservatives: 100Mbit/sec to Majority of UK Homes By 2017

Broadband speeds are always a contentious topic and now we're going to combine them with politics. What could go wrong...?

Speaking on the Andrew Marr show on Sunday shadow chancellor George Osborne claimed a Conservative government will bring speeds of 100Mbit/sec to "the majority" of homes by 2017. He accused Labour of playing "catch-up" having used its Digital Britain report to set a target of 2Mbit/sec national broadband by 2012.

How will the Tories more ambitious targets be met? 3.5 per cent of the BBC licence fee (£4.99 per person) which is currently being put towards the digital switchover (finished by 2012) will be set aside for the expansion. "In the 19th century we built the railways. In the 20th century we built the motorways," he said. "In the 21st century, let's build the super-fast broadband network that will create hundreds of thousands of jobs for Britain."

Is this realistic? It's debateable, but 2017 is a long way away and the likes of WiMAX, 300Mbit+ LTE and even 4G with its 1Gb/sec target (LTE is commonly described as 4G, but is in fact 3.9G) all likely to be common by then will we even need such a network anyway?

In related news cable broadband provider Virgin Media has announced it will become the country's first phone provider to give new and existing customers free calls to mobiles from home phone lines. The inevitable catch: it's Virgin phone line subscribers to Virgin Mobile subscribers only. Yep, you were way ahead of me. The service starts 1 April (no really).


Osborne via BBC

Virgin Media


February 1, 2010, 7:32 pm

Who can imagine what speeds and access technology will be around in 2017. 100mbps will be the 56k dial up by then I bet.... Or are they just being, well, conservative ( small C)<smirk>


February 1, 2010, 7:41 pm

They declare the digital Britain report to be "catch-up" and say they are going to have 100mbit's to 51% by 2017! That's pathetic. If they said 1Gbit up and down THAT would be just about "catching-up".


February 1, 2010, 7:45 pm

As mad as it is to suggest that the entire population needs a broadband speed of 100mbps, I do like the idea of the licence fee being used to help us all download shows ripped from Sky at super quick speeds.


February 1, 2010, 7:46 pm

That's still too little, too late.


February 1, 2010, 7:48 pm

Free mobile calls doesn't hurt, but knowing 1 person who uses Virgin Mobile does make it pretty useless to me. :-)


February 1, 2010, 7:57 pm

"In the 19th century we built the railways. In the 20th century we built the motorways" lol Look at the state both are in today. We dont want internet built again with the same limited vision. Labours 2mb is laughable but at leastr they aren't lying to us whilst the Conservatives have just plucked a number from the ether that probably much of the country wil not be able to reach by that time and by which the main high populated areas should easily have exceeded and that other countruies will have topped multiple times. 7 years from now we may well be talking 500mbs to a terrabyte as a standard ib many countries.


February 1, 2010, 8:15 pm

Little Britain.


February 1, 2010, 8:30 pm

I am sure this has NOTHING to do with Sky wanting to cut out BT in the LLU and getting Murdoch to ask their pals in the Tory party to aid this, and they get to take a dig at the BBC's purse at the same time. Two birds, one stone. *sigh*

Martin Daler

February 1, 2010, 8:34 pm

and just like the motorways, demand will always match supply. So at some point we have to decide how much is enough? I'm sure we could use (as in "soak up") 1Tb up/down, but surely 100Mb would be, shall we say, sufficient, at least until they work out how to teleport us via fibre - that would be a worthwhile excuse for a bit of extra bandwidth!


February 1, 2010, 8:38 pm

Does anyone have a good source for broadband speed in other countries? I couldn't care less about the headline speeds for the minority but I'd be interested to see how the speed generally available across the country compares to ours.

In this I think Labour has the more sensible plan. Far better to have everyone at a similar speed across the country than to put the 'majority' (i.e. those in densely populated areas) on a faster connection and increase the gap. We try to get rid of postcode lotteries in other services, why not here?


February 1, 2010, 9:11 pm

We all will be flying to the Mars by then, who cares. @.@


February 1, 2010, 9:27 pm

Mr Osborne says that "In the 19th century we built the railways. In the 20th century we built the motorways"

Well, I can say that in France as in many other European countries, we started investing in fiber optics networks forty years ago.

The result is that the operators can deliver today, bandwidth Mr. Osborne talk about as if he was speaking Sci-Fi.

May I point out that at the time, Mr. Osborne's party was in power, and dismissed the French government which drove that project, as wasteful and lacking in common sense.

Today, it is Mr. Osborne who makes a fool of himself by showing his ignorance of what has been going on in other countries.

Still waiting for "the market" to solve everything, Mr. Osborne?

If it is the case, we don't need a government, whatever its side.

Ala Miah

February 1, 2010, 9:30 pm

Japan has 1GB now and were going to have 100mb in 2017? LOL


February 1, 2010, 9:51 pm

Using a small portion of licence fee money to bolster rollout of high speed networks where such deployment is not commercially viable is a realistic solution and one that I'm in favour of. Given that the BBC are probably the largest IP broadcaster in the UK at the moment (thanks to iPlayer) it's only right that a USO to provide broadband access should be part of the package.

I'm confident that a Conservative government will be able to create a better economic environment for investment in high speed infrastructure by the private sector than a faltering Labour one.


February 1, 2010, 10:25 pm

Heres the difference Labour want 2mb to everyone, even farmer giles in the middle of nowhere in order to roll out digital systems such as online voting etc. that will actually save money in the long term. The telecos could do this by 2012 if they had the money the conservatives are talking about, for those 51% most of the infrastructure is already in place they just need to upgrade the cabinets. The super-fast broadband commission (on BBC Parliament a lot recently) are talking about the potential to have 50mb/s via fiber to the cabinet (fiber to the cabinet at the end of your road then down copper - short 400m only) available to 94% of the country and the remaining can be covered by new fast broadband satellites that are being put up at the moment providing up to 40mb speeds. That to me sounds like a better plan. Rather than benefiting a few for the headline policy and then leaving many out in the cold as the conservatives have done so many times before.


February 1, 2010, 10:26 pm


Decent, if sobering, graphical representation dated October 2009 here:



February 1, 2010, 11:04 pm

@Kingsley: That sort of thing is meaningless without the rest of the numbers. If 5% of a population have 1Gbit lines that they're paying £10 per month for and the rest of the country gets an average of 1mbit for £30 a month you'd have an average of 52Mbit at 56p per megabit which sounds great overall, but I'd certainly rather be living in the UK with 4mbit average speeds at every single exchange. We don't even know if those figures are the best connections availible or in use, broadband is advancing rapidly and how many people are still paying £30 a month for a fixed 1mbit connection because they haven't looked at their options in the last few years?

If we're going to compare our broadband meaningfully with others we need a good idea of what's available to everyone here and everyone elsewhere, not just what a city centre in Japan or some ice farmers in Finland are getting.


February 1, 2010, 11:13 pm

@Simon: you've said it for me mate. Hardly surprising for the Dirty Digger's lackey to come up with this. Anyone remember the soon to gone Margaret Thatcher vetoeing plans by BT to replace the existing copper lines with fibre optic alternatives in the 80's?


February 2, 2010, 3:17 am

The use of the Digital portion of the license fee makes a lot of sense, and having a solid monetary base at least gives the plan some merit.


February 2, 2010, 4:51 am

Well bugger me, what an advanced democratic world we now inhabit !

Elections decided on who offers the fastest broadband.

Expect Lib - Dems, "we offer free footy every day, in 4D!"

Triggers visions of Newsnight/Channel Four studios with broadband speed tests instead of a Gallup poll.

PS, @ Geoff, get back soon if you need me for the market research thingy.

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