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The minimum broadband speed ‘should be DOUBLED’: Study suggests 20 megabits-per-second would offer better value for money

  • The new Digital Economy Act sets a minimum broadband speed of 10 mbps
  • A study suggests a speed of 20 mbps would provide greater value for money
  • The study suggests the speed of 10 mbps would create benefits of ?2.2 billion
  • Doubling the speed would create benefits worth ?2.5 billion, the study says

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Ministers should double the minimum legal broadband speed, a Government study has found.

The new Digital Economy Act sets out powers for the Government to impose a minimum broadband speed of 10 mega-bits-per-second (10 mbps) – typically fast enough to stream TV programmes over the internet.

But a new study by the Department for Culture, Media and Sport suggests a speed of 20 mbps would provide greater value for money.

The study, which was slipped out on Sunday, suggests a legal minimum speed of 10 mbps would create benefits to the economy of ?2.2 billion once the costs of achieving it are taken into account. Doubling the speed would create benefits worth ?2.5 billion, even after the higher cost of achieving it is factored in.

The new Digital Economy Act sets out powers for the Government to impose a minimum broadband speed of 10 mega-bits-per-second (10 mbps). But a new study by the Department for Culture, Media and Sport suggests a speed of 20 mbps would provide greater value for money

Former Tory Party chairman Grant Shapps last night called on ministers to think again – and ensure Britain’s economy is not left behind.

Mr Shapps, who is campaigning for ministers to get tough with the broadband industry, said: ‘This is precisely the moment when Britain should be stretching our broadband speeds to ensure we’re competitive in the post-Brexit global race.

‘It is therefore concerning that we should opt for the slow lane even when the impact assessment clearly shows more benefits from opting for twice the speed.’

A survey by the technology firm Akamai suggests the UK ranks 15th in the world for average broadband speeds.

South Korea leads the way with average speeds of over 28mbps. Sweden has the fastest broadband in the EU, averaging over 20mbps.

Setting a target of 10 mbps rather than 20 will be roughly ?200 million cheaper, but produces ?500 million less in terms of benefits for the economy.

Ministers were under fire at the weekend after it emerged they could ditch the legal minimum altogether as part of a cosy deal with BT.

In a surprise move, digital minister Matt Hancock said the new law could be shelved in return for a voluntary commitment from the telecoms giant to spend ?600 million on rolling out broadband to 1.2 million homes that cannot get a decent service.

Former Tory Party chairman Grant Shapps (pictured) last night called on ministers to think again ? and ensure Britain's economy is not left behind

Former Tory Party chairman Grant Shapps (pictured) last night called on ministers to think again – and ensure Britain’s economy is not left behind

Under the terms of the arrangement, all broadband customers could face a surcharge on their bills to pay for the rollout. Industry experts have claimed it could cost every household ?20.

The Country Land Owners Association condemned the decision to backpedal on a new legal guarantee, which was included in the Tory manifesto.

The organisation’s president Ross Murray said: ‘We will fight any attempt to water down the hard won legal right to broadband for rural homes and businesses.

For too long, rural areas have been at the back of the queue when it comes to investment in infrastructure and that is why this legal principle is not something to compromise on.

‘The Universal Service Obligation is necessary because it creates an inalienable right that can be enforced by the premise owner. It cannot be replaced by a cosy deal with just one company allowing it to deliver connection how it sees fit.

‘Accountability for delivering the rollout of broadband has been a closed shop discussion between the industry and the regulator for too long. It is this that the USO would end, making the consumer the enforcer.

It’s no wonder BT Group doesn’t want that.’

The CLA said any legal minimum should be made flexible enough that it can be increased at a later date as technology improves.

The Department for Culture, Media and Sport said the decision to adopt a slower 10mbps target was based on Ofcom advice that this would meet the needs of most families.

A spokesman said the minimum speed would be kept ‘under review’.

He added: ‘

‘By the end of this year 95 per cent of the UK will be able to access superfast broadband and the Universal Service Obligation will make sure that no-one is left behind.

We will keep the minimum speed of 10Mbps under review to ensure it continues to meet people’s needs over time.’

References

  1. ^ e-mail (www.dailymail.co.uk)

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