Policy Exchange orders Government to focus on internet coverage, not speed

News 7 Jan, 2013

Think tank argues money spent on superfast broadband should be used to get more people online.

Think tank Policy Exchange has called on the Government to end its fixation with attaining world's fastest broadband speeds.

In a new report, The Superfast and the Furious, the organisation claims politicians have become preoccupied with broadband speeds, at the expense of the 10.8 million people, Policy Exchange claims, have no internet access.

The think tank suggests the Government should end subsidies for broadband infrastructure in 2015, when current commitments will be met.

The money saved should be used to connect those who are not yet online, the majority of whom are over 65, and help SMBs make the most of internet opportunities.

A poll of 2,000 people and 500 businesses, which is featured in the report, suggests the majority of people agree with the think tank’s proposals.

Sixty-four per cent of respondents think good basic broadband coverage for the whole country is more important than chasing fast speeds.

Moreover, 79 per cent claim every household should have access to the internet, while 76 per cent did not think it was fair for people in remote areas to pay more for access.

When it comes to SMBs, the survey showed 79 per cent have a web presence, with 34 per cent taking online bookings and 36 per cent using the internet to accept payments.

Graham Walker, CEO of Go ON UK, the UK’s Digital Skills Alliance, said: "The UK has strong digital foundations, but is not maximising the full economic and social benefits offered by digitisation.

"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," Walker added.