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Broadband upgrade

BT has made an offer to the government to spend £600million to deliver 10Mbps broadband access to everyone in the UK by 2022. Whether the government accepts the offer or decides to use its regulatory powers to push BT further has yet to be seen.

BT’s subsidiary Openreach, which controls the UK’s broadband network, has told ministers it will use that money to ensure 1.4 million rural homes have access to a minimum speed of 10Mbps by 2020, meeting a pledge made in the Conservative’s recent election manifesto.

According to BT’s CEO, Gavin Patterson, the initiative is intended to ensure that all premises in the UK will have access to faster broadband.

In response, the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport has said that the deal, if agreed, would not result in it abandoning its pledge that every household would have a legal right to fast internet. As a result, any agreement would likely see that legal obligation transferred to BT.

The news comes after a group of MPs published a report suggesting that almost 7m households do not get the broadband speeds they pay for.

Whether the government goes with the proposal has yet to be decided but two questions arise from BT’s offer – who pays for it and at a time when broadband speeds are running many times higher is the promise of 10Mbps adequate?

10Mbps may have been considered fast ten years ago, but many customers can experience speeds in excess of 250Mbs and while BT is targeting those in rural areas not benefiting from faster broadband, many people living in urban areas often see speeds as low as 1-3Mbps. Many consumers have been told that they shouldn’t expect to see speeds in excess of 6Mbps.

That really isn't good enough. Both the Government and BT need to be doing an awful lot more to deliver the promises they've made of delivering a broadband economy.

Neil Tyler

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