Author Bio: Kerry Butters contributes this article on behalf of Broadband Genie, the UK broadband consumer information site.
You don’t have to be a pessimist to be immediately suspicious about UK government targets on anything. After all, neither the current or previous administrations were exactly renowned for hitting targets. So why should their latest one regarding broadband be any different.
So the questions are, what are our aims and how realistic is the target?
Well, the aim is to achieve two goals. The first being to be the leading EU broadband nation by 2015. The second being to have 90% of households with at least 24Mbps or faster with the remaining 10 of UK properties with minimum broadband only reaching 2Mbps by 2015 as well.
Quite a lofty goal, some would say. Not according to MP Ed Vaizey who’s insistent that we are well on the way to achieving that goal, with an investment of £530 million to help us along the way.
However, the government have already reached their first stumbling block, with EU commissioners not exactly keen to sign off on the whole thing. The reason for this being that they have already received complaints regarding a process that has seen the only two bidders (BT & Fujitsu) invited to compete for the awarding of the contracts.
Add to this the fact that Fujitsu has not actually won any of the contracts yet and we are left with BT in the driving seat as per usual. Whilst on the subject of BT, it was them that stated that it wasn’t completely viable to roll out superfast broadband throughout the whole of the UK and when it comes to knowledge on this subject, who would you trust, the oldest telecommunications company in the country, or a member of parliament?
Another problem that’s starting to rear its head is local council’s lack of resources and expertise at planning and implementing a superfast network of this type. According to the Country Land and Business Alliance (CLA), this would have had a far greater chance of success on time if the distribution of funds had been more centralised.
It would seem that bureaucracy and red tape are yet again going to be the government’s Achilles heel when it comes to achieving a target that they have set themselves, and I for one would be very surprised if there aren’t many more hiccups along the way that see this target moved further back. Let’s not forget, the target was originally planned for 2012 under the previous administration, so we are well behind where we expected to be already.
It’s not all doom and gloom though. The UK is improving on the worldwide broadband table, where it now lies in 16th position and is climbing all the time. We’re going in the right direction, it would seem, and the government are finally starting to realise how seriously the internet affects our economy and are now acting on it.
The way things are going, we are going to have a far superior broadband service over the coming years. However, when you look at the claim of “best in the EU”, well, that will very much depend on the success of other nations, many of which are also looking to improve their networks as quickly as possible.