Thursday, 19 May 2011 16:55

Rural broadband plan 'unambitious'

Written by  Ruralcity Media
Rural broadband plan 'unambitious'

GOVERNMENT plans to speed up Britain's rural broadband are woefully inadequate, MPs have warned.

A Commons debate on rural broadband was opened by Rory Stewart, MP for Penrith and the Borders, on Thursday (19 May).

The motion for debate – that rural businesses and rural communities are undermined by slow broadband – won cross-party support.

Mr Stewart called on the government to fulfill its commitment to build the best superfast broadband network in Europe.

He also urged the government to meet its target of bringing faster broadband to everyone in the country.

But Tim Farron, MP for Westmorland and Lonsdale, said the government should go further.

Plans to get 2Mbps broadband to everyone by 2015 were seriously unambitious, he said.

Connection speeds were lagging behind most other European countries, leaving rural areas at an economic and social disadvantage.

A more appropriate, ambitious aim would be 100Mbps, said Mr Farron.

"A 150 years ago, our visionaries invented the canals and the rail networks. Today's visionaries need to focus on our communications networks."

Norway was set to roll out broadband speeds of 100Mbps to 90% of the country, added Mr Farron.

"This is exactly what we should be doing," he said.

The motion also urged Ofcom to increase the coverage obligation attached to the 800MHz spectrum license to 98%.

Ofcom is currently carrying out a consultation into its plans to auction off the rights to the next generation of mobile wireless networks.

The consultation ends on "fourth generation" or 4G licences next month.

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