Your local Liberal Democrats are calling on the government to re-affirm its commitment to a national minimum broadband speed across the country to stop hundreds of thousands of homes and businesses falling into a “digital twilight zone”.
Swift action is now needed after delays to the Digital Economy Bill and the Government’s Digital Strategy caused by Theresa May’s new ministerial postings, which sees Matt Hancock replace Ed Vaizey as Minister of State for Culture and the Digital Economy at the Department for Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS).
It is estimated that the number of households that will be unable to access a 10Mbps (Megabits per second) service by 2017 is likely to be as high as one million, with 100,000 of those in remote rural areas.
Fast and reliable digital connectivity is a necessity for households and businesses in the UK.
Central Preston Focus Editor Joe Young said,
"Good internet access is now a vital element of everyday life for residents and can help us all to cut household bills, shop online for cheaper goods, stay in touch with distant relatives, file tax returns and access their bank accounts. As central and local government services increasingly become ‘digital by default’, more people will need to have faster and more reliable speeds."
Local councils have played a big role in the extension of digital connectivity to households through the Superfast Broadband Programme. Around £740 million of the £1.7 billion invested in this has come from local government spending. Joe is calling on Preston City Council to beat the Government’s national target of 95 per cent coverage of premises by December 2017 and work to find solutions to extend provision to those in the final five percent.
Local government leaders support the Government’s planned creation of a national minimum broadband speed as part of a Universal Service Obligation (USO) for broadband users but we are calling for a safety net for those who are unlikely to be covered by roll out plans.
Councillor John Potter added,
"The Government also needs to legislate for the USO’s minimum speed to be reviewed at appropriate intervals and upgraded when necessary to ensure that areas are not left behind. The USO specification should define minimum levels of provision for a range of factors, shifting the focus away from headline speeds, which can be misleading, towards other indicators, including upload speed, that provide a more realistic way of determining an internet connection’s quality."