Business secretary calls UK business broadband “unacceptable”

Greg Clark, the business secretary, has said that major broadband upgrades are needed to support the government’s plans for industry. Speaking at the Institute of Directors’ annual conference, he said that the state of UK broadband was “unacceptable” for 2016.

Clark told attendees that he wanted entrepreneurs in the UK to be valued the same way that Olympians and Paralympians are, but that there were significant obstacles preventing British companies for achieving that - including the quality of broadband and mobile.

"We have new infrastructure like Crossrail about to open, but we have roads that are bottlenecked, trains overcrowded, and broadband and mobile coverage that is simply unacceptable in 2016," said Clark.

"I believe it is time for our country to have an upgrade - an upgrade in our infrastructure so that we have smart and modern connections, physical and electronic."

The government's multi-million pound Broadband Delivery UK Fund has been driving fibre rollouts across the country, connecting 91% of the population to faster broadband already. It hopes to reach 95% by the end of next year, but that will still inevitably leave some areas without a decent connection.

Clark said that, while different parts of the country have different needs, government policy has treated everywhere as if it was the same.

Clark said: "It seems to me that helping Cornwall make the best of its future is as vital to a comprehensive national success as helping Birmingham - but what is needed in each place is different, and our strategy must reflect that.

"Many of the policies and decisions that form our industrial strategy will not be about particular industries or sectors, but will be cross-cutting."

Clark likely found a receptive audience to his criticisms of UK broadband - the Institute of Directors has indicated that it wants a 10Gb broadband available to all businesses by 2030. Meanwhile, the government's incoming Digital Economy Bill includes a universal service obligation of just 10Mb.

Source: Computer Weekly

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