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Labour's bold solution for super-fast broadband

The Telecommunications industry has only itself to blame for the appallingly slow roll-out of fast broadband to the nation.   The 'market' has failed to deliver.  That isn't merely the verdict of politicians or the Labour Party. That is the verdict of the telecommunications sector.

So what is the problem?

One of the problems was highlighted just three years ago in an Ofcom report, but it failed to take the bull by the horns and propose radical solutions.

Openreach is the division of BT that owns the fibre and copper wires that run from the local telephone exchange to homes and businesses.    The 76 million miles of cables underpins all our telecom and broadband services.   

Whether or not you change your service provider, it is the same cabling.   

One option is to split Openreach off from BT, and it has been an option called for by other providers such as Sky.   They say that BT has failed to invest significantly in the network and they have criticised BT for their failure to ultra-fast broadband quickly enough.  

So, this isn't a problem invented by the Labour party.   Their solution is to hive off Openreach from BT by taking it into public ownership so that the appropriate investment and roll-out can be achieved.   But they also address another problem: fairness and opportunity.  

Labour's is a bold strategy to make access to superfast broadband equal to all.  Yes, it is costly.  There will be cries from the industry about that.  But it is an investment worth making if we want a green revolution, a revolution underpinned by new technology, and if we want to open up new ways of working.  

Labour needs now to make a case for the cost-effectiveness of its proposals.   The Tory press will go into shark attack mode.   But public ownership of the network should be considered as an appropriate option for sound economic and social reasons.  

Our broadband access is now as vital as our access to roads. Our businesses depend on it, and increasingly we rely on it.



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