UK broadband speeds suffer from “poverty of ambition”

29 Feb, 2016

IoD report says UK internet speeds should be 1,000 times faster

Broadband speeds in the UK should be “a thousand times faster” than they currently are, according to a recently published report from the Institute of Directors (IoD).

The organisation, which represents the interests of business leaders, accused the government's current target of 10Mpbs by 2020 of lacking ambition.

Instead, it called for a new target for consumers and businesses to have access to broadband speeds of 10Gbps by 2030. 

Its Ultrafast Britain report said that while the UK leads the world in internet-based business, it lags behind many European countries when it comes to installing fibre broadband.

Dan Lewis, senior advisor on infrastructure policy at the IoD, and author of the report, said that it was time to set a “bold new target for genuinely world-beating broadband”.

"We have the leading internet economy in the G20, and yet download speeds are mediocre and the coverage of fibre optic cable is woeful," he said. "Unfortunately, the government's current target displays a distinct poverty of ambition."

He said that he expected the UK government to meet the Universal Service Obligation of 10 Mbps by 2020, but only “because they’ve set themselves such a low bar”.

Lewis added that instead of spending money on incremental upgrades on copper, politicians must “look ahead” and figure out how the country is going to provide the necessary infrastructure in order to maintain Britain’s position at the forefront of digital business.

The IoD said that in Lithuania, around a third of homes and businesses had fibre to the premises; in the UK, this was a fraction of one per cent. The report interviewed IoD members and they said that improved broadband speeds would help in making the firms more productive, competitive as well as allowing flexible working for staff.

Just last week, a report by the European Commission said that the UK has fallen behind other countries in Europe in areas such as connectivity, digital skills and the integration of digital technology.

Ofcom also ruled that BT should remain in control of its fibre rollout arm, Openreach, last Thursday, despite criticisms of delays to extending the UK's broadband coverage, as well as concerns BT could make decisions that disadvantage rivals using its network.

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