Details on broadband from final version of Labour Manifesto
The 2017 General Election is just three weeks away now and after a leak the official Manifesto for the Labour Party has been released so its only reasonable to cover it again and discuss the final wording rather than the leaked version. As ever the discussion from us is not about saying vote for party xyz, but simply highlighting what each of the major parties is saying on broadband and what we believe they actually mean.
Page 12 We will deliver universal superfast broadband availability by 2022. Labour will improve mobile internet coverage and expand provision of free public wi-fi in city centres and on public transport.
We will improve 4G coverage and invest to ensure all urban areas, as well as major roads and railways, have uninterrupted 5G coverage. On day one we will instruct the National Infrastructure Commission to report on how to roll out ‘ultrafast’ (300 Mbps) across the UK within the next decade. Page 88 This Conservative government has taken rural communities for granted, with chronic underinvestment in transport, broadband and public services, including the closure of local schools, post offices and libraries.
Rural infrastructure and industry has been neglected. Labour will invest in broadband, housing and transport to create jobs and ensure that the nation’s prosperity is felt beyond our large towns and cities. Labour’s national investment plans include coastal protections, better food management and the broadband and 4G extensions that will underpin the future success of rural small businesses.
Extracts from Labour Manifesto
The main change seems to be that the talk of specific numbers not covered has been removed, in the leaked draft the number confusion detracted from any message. There is no commitment to the universal being a commitment (USC) or a legal obligation (USO), so it could potentially be that a USC of 30 Mbps would apply with a lesser 10 Mbps USO and crucially no mention of the technology is made and almost every property in the UK can access a 30 Mbps download satellite broadband service. Promises on 5G coverage are potentially even harder to pin down than superfast broadband, since 5G is set to be a wide range of frequencies and the lowest frequency bands with the greatest range may be no faster than some 3G services today, but with better latency and better load handling at cell towers will still perform better.
Alas most people if you say 5G will have a picture in their head of the multi-gigabit speeds that the labs keep presenting papers on and those will use frequency bands that have very short reach, i.e. could be talking a mini-mast in every lamp post and heavy rain/fog would block the signal. Roll-out of 300 Mbps broadband across the UK is a simple matter of choosing to either extend existing networks, or build something new from scratch to leave behind the old legacy issues and if ‘across the UK within the next decade’ means 100% coverage then a pace of around 1.5 million premises a year would be needed, i.e. a significant increase in work force size compared to the number of people employed in current projects. Its just 1.5 million premises as the existing ultrafast is sat at just over 50% of UK premises.
If the definition of ultrafast really means FTTP then the scale of the task would double.