As part of our plans to Get Britain Growing, the Conservatives have unveiled plans to help make the UK the first major European country that has superfast broadband in the majority of homes by 2017.
Jeremy Hunt, the Shadow Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport said "we are currently one of the slowest countries in the developed world for broadband", but with the Conservatives "we'll become one of the fastest".
He said Britain's digital and creative industries "must have a proper communications infrastructure" if they are to become "world beaters".
The Conservative approach to achieving this has three key components:
- We will create a regulatory framework to ensure the roll-out of superfast broadband at speeds of up to 100mbps to the majority of homes across the UK by 2017. This could involve either mobile or fixed line solutions and will be significantly faster than the Government’s proposed target. Our objective is to make the UK the first major European country to achieve this aim, securing its place as a European and global hub for the creative industries.
- We will end BT’s local loop monopoly by allowing other operators to use their ducts and poles thereby encouraging competition in the superfast broadband market. This approach has proved successful in other countries such as Singapore and South Korea: these countries are global leaders in superfast broadband infrastructure.
- We are committed to universal access to superfast broadband speeds. If the market does not deliver this in certain areas we will consider using the proportion of the licence fee dedicated to digital switchover to finance superfast broadband roll out under the new BBC licence fee settlement, starting in 2012. This amount would be leveraged to maximise the investment made, either by making it available as loans or on a matched funding basis.
Under these plans, Hunt said that "high speeds will be available not just in our cities but across the rural areas that have been left behind for too long".
"These regulatory changes will create the right conditions for sustainable growth and ensure that the digital sector plays a leading role in a competitive, balanced economy", he added.