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UK must beat South Korea for broadband, says culture secretary

Culture secretary Sajid Javid wants the UK to have world-beating broadband, better than what’s available in South Korea and Japan. 

Speaking at the 2014 Conservative Party Conference in Birmingham, Javid wants to improve on his department’s current goal of bringing superfast broadband to 95 per cent of UK premises by 2017. 

According to the most recent State of The Internet report from Akamai, average download speeds enjoyed in South Korea are 23.6Mbps while in Japan the average speed is 14.6Mbps. The same report points to the UK limping behind with a weedy 9.9Mbps average download speed. 

Culture secretary Sajid Javid has big plans for Broadband Britain
Culture secretary Sajid Javid has big plans for Broadband Britain

Referring to the current BDUK (Broadband Delivery for the UK) plans, Javid said: “We’re investing almost £1 billion of central Government money to take superfast broadband to 95 per cent of the country by 2017. Since 2010, access to Superfast Broadband has doubled and we already have the best broadband coverage of any major European nation.

“But beating France and Germany is never enough. We need to compete with the likes of Japan and South Korea. So yes, we’re making progress, but there’s still more to do.”

The culture secretary hasn’t unveiled any grandiose plans similar to those announced by Labour party recently

Labour Digital, in its Number One in Digital report has called for gigabit (1,000Mbps) broadband to be made available to every UK home and for 10Gbps connections to be the norm in business parks and tech hubs. 

Javid did touch on the MIP (Mobile Infrastructure Plan), a £150 million fund that’s been set up to plug mobile broadband not-spots all around the country, but with a focus on mainly rural areas. 

“We need to work harder on improving mobile phone coverage, especially in rural areas,” Javid added. “There’s vast swathes of our countryside where you can’t get a decent phone signal. And that’s just not good enough. Our mobile operators must do more.” 

EE recently unveiled plans to launch LTE-Advanced services, providing download speeds of up to 300Mbps at Wembley Stadium in 2015, ahead of an eventual nationwide rollout. 

The network has also spoken of plans to trial a new up to 400Mbps 4G service next year. 

At the same time, EE is also working on improving 4G signal strength in rural areas while BT has announced a new programme that could see street cabinets and telegraph poles doubling as 3G and 4G masts

Until the Conservative Party unveils its election manifesto we won’t know exactly how Javid plans to bump up British broadband to South Korean levels, what this means for BDUK and how much more might have to come out of the public purse. 

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