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Responsibility Falls to Industry as Broadband Costs Escalate

16 July 2010 by Stephen McNamara

Just when you thought it couldn’t get any worse for the future of Britain’s online broadband network… then BT pipe up.

After the coalition government abandoned plans to roll out nationwide broadband fibre in its emergency budget, BT has now revealed that the actual cost to realise the government’s vision would be around £2bn.

With the cost of delivering basic broadband in rural areas also expected to rocket, there is little money, except for the £175m allocated from the Digital Switchover, to fund the roll out.

Consequently, Culture Secretary Jeremy Hunt has suggested that a more realistic target for achieving universal 2 Mbps access will be in the lifetime of the Parliament rather than 2012 as originally suggested.

Unfortunately without the suggested £2bn, Britain can only expect to fall further behind Scandinavia, Germany and the Netherlands in the super-fast broadband league if someone doesn’t step in.

Supporting the results of our recent round table on Building Online Britain, the government is therefore placing the onus on the industry to drive this forward. Although industry experts decided a collective approach is better for growing the UK’s online offering, it was widely regarded that businesses, entrepreneurs and educational institutions should be left to develop things with little government input.

Despite firms like Rutland Telecom taking the initiative and raising money from householders to improve broadband services, resistance from BT et al means that it may be an uphill battle to reach the two million homes needed though.