Policy Exchange warns against government’s broadband ‘fixation’

Is there a broadband ‘fixation’?

According to Policy Exchange, the government has become too focussed on acquiring the best superfast broadband in Europe. The think tank has warned that the government should not put more taxpayer’s money into developing infrastructure for faster speeds.

Under the Broadband Delivery UK (BDUK) scheme, ministers have promised to deliver the fastest broadband speeds in Europe by 2015, and millions of pounds have been committed in funding. Policy Exchange belies that the government should instead be focussing on helping the 10.8 million people who are not online. Small firms should also be given help, as only 34% can currently take online bookings, and 36% can receive online payments.

Chris Yiu, author of the report, said: “There is no doubt that broadband, both fixed and wireless, makes a major contribution to the economy. But the right person to decide how much speed your family or business needs is you – not the government…Successive governments have been right to invest public money in basic broadband connectivity. The government’s current spending plans will extend fast broadband to the vast majority of people. Any further public money should be spent on making sure we are putting this to good use. It’s far from clear that your taxes should help to pay for me to have an even faster connection.”

Graham Walker, CEO of Go ON UK, an organisation to get people online and develop digital skills said: “To reap benefits for all in the UK, we need universal broadband access and greater investment in the digital skills and capabilities of individuals and businesses.”

Related reading