Labour MP and shadow minister for culture, media and sport Helen Goodman has accused the government of not investing enough in rural broadband.
Arguing that money being spent on the super connected cities should be spent elsewhere, Goodman said:
“The previous Labour government had a target of ensuring that everybody had two megabits per second by 2012. The government abandoned that target and probably will not achieve it until 2016. At the moment, 2.6 million households, mainly in rural areas, have no possibility of accessing broadband.”
Read Recombu Digital’s guide to Rural Broadband
According to UK Authority, Goodman added that a Labour government would take £75 million, half of the super-connected cities fund, and spend it on rural rollout.
The government’s Urban Broadband Fund (UBF) has been criticised at home by BT and Virgin Media and abroad by the EU.
So far, £150 million has been set aside for the UBF. This will see Birmingham, Bristol, Leeds and Bradford, Newcastle and Manchester, along with the four UK capitals getting extra cash to plug superfast not spots.
Earlier this year it was announced that Aberdeen, Brighton & Hove, Cambridge, Coventry, Derby, Derry/Londonderry, Newport, Oxford, Perth, Portsmouth, Salford and York would be in line for extra superfast funding as well.
While many BDUK projects will see superfast speeds rolled out to rural areas, there will still be pockets which only stand to receive a very basic 2Mbps service by 2016. Rural broadband projects like B4RN, Fibre GarDen and Gigaclear aren’t waiting and have taken matters into their own hands.
Despite there being a clear digital divide, we think there is still a need for urban funding. Liverpool has been able to acquire extra cash from the European Regional Development Fund (EDRF) to plug its not spots. Basingstoke, home seat of current culture secretary Maria Miller, was a broadband black hole for years until recently.
Regular readers will also be aware of our own sob story regarding superfast access in London town. You’d be forgiven for thinking that fibre connections would be sprouting out of every paving slab in the centre of the capital. But for most of 2012 we made do with sub-1Mbps speeds while we had Virgin Media dig up half of Little Portland Street.
Criticism of the government’s plans for Broadband Britain have been mounting. The original 2015 deadline for BDUK projects has slipped in some places, meaning it’ll be election time before everyone’s been connected.