The Country Land and Business Association (CLA) has announced a new national broadband campaign called 'The Final Third First' (FTF). This title refers to approximately one third of the UK population who currently are, for economic or technical reasons, unlikely ever to be able to receive a superfast ISP connection (i.e. more than the governments promised 2Mbps by 2012).
The campaign, which is founded by a broad range of broadband organisations and champions of wider community interests, will lobby the Government to provide adequate and effective broadband access for the "Final Third" of the UK which currently lacks this vital infrastructure.
The founding members of the campaign are: Country Land and Business Association, Digital Dales, Neil Blake (Ewelme Parish Council), Wray Community Communications, Pitchup.com, Vtesse Networks, NextGenUs UK CIC Rutland Telecom, Broadband Britain, County Broadband, Richard Hull (Chair 3-C Ltd and RATS Ltd), Bob Franklin (Teleconsulting.co.uk) and Community Lincs.
The campaign aims to focus on ensuring that all those in the "Final Third" will be able to access Government online services by 2012 and then to facilitate the move towards next generation broadband. Disappointingly the campaign has not yet set out how it would seek to achieve these goals, with only Vtesse appearing to mention action on the Fibre Tax and infrastructure sharing.
Yesterday also saw the Government launch a new body - Broadband Delivery UK (BDUK) - to handle their Universal Service Commitment (USC) to deliver "at least" 2Mbps to every household by 2012 and manage the spend of its £1bn 'Next Generation Fund' (50p phone line broadband tax). However unlike BDUK the FTF campaign does at least have a website, though at present it's only a blog.
In the meantime there's a general election just around the corner and both of the major parties have already set out their broadband plans. Suffice to say that any new campaigns now are unlikely to have much of an impact until after the next terms government is chosen.
Elsewhere, the Liberal Democrats do not appear to have a specific position on the subject, at least not one that we could see being clearly set out on their website. They have yet to respond to our questions on the subject but we will keep trying.
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