Lords Committee calls for bolder government vision on broadband
1st August 2012
The House of Lords communications committee says the Government
lacks an all encompassing vision for broadband and warns that
people and businesses are being left behind and unable to benefit
from the 'information revolution'.
In a report published yesterday (Tuesday), the committee calls
on the Government to state in explicit terms a long-term vision for
a pervasive, robust and resilient broadband infrastructure, central
to national policy and infrastructure planning.
The report refers to a 'widening digital divide' as a
'profound source of concern' and recommends that Government
policy on broadband infrastructure should be driven by the social
benefits it can bring.
Responding to the recommendations, Andy
Kerr, CWU Deputy General Secretary said: "There is
much to endorse in the committee's recommendations. Broadband
has enormous potential to boost growth and jobs and so it should
rightly be at the heart of infrastructure planning and investment.
The CWU has consistently called on the government to be more
ambitious in its broadband plans to ensure that all homes and
businesses can benefit from quality broadband services.
"It is also right that the Government should look to other
infrastructure providers to provide wholesale access to their
networks in order to make best use of existing capacity. But the
committee does seem to have overlooked the fact that BT already
provides wholesale access to its network on an equivalent and non
discriminatory terms for both copper and fibre.
"The important thing is that wholesale prices are set at a
price that encourages investment from network operators to help
make a world class digital network for the UK a reality. To support
this we would like to see a duty on Ofcom to promote investment in
infrastructure, which is not something the committee has addressed.
"We disagree with the committee's view that a Universal
Service Obligation for broadband is not appropriate. A USO for
broadband could be funded by an industry wide levy and would be the
most reliable way of ensuring the delivery of quality broadband
services to all UK homes and businesses.
"The CWU is the largest union representative of
telecommunications workers with over 60,000 members, many of whom
will be responsible for delivering the UK's broadband network.
As a major stakeholder, we have an important perspective on the
industry and it was disappointing not to be invited by the
committee to give verbal evidence to its broadband inquiry."
The CWU is campaigning for universal access to quality broadband services via a Universal Service Obligation for broadband, combined with greater public funding for underserved areas and a duty on Ofcom to encourage network investment.
Read the House of Lords'
full report for more information.