The UK as a whole currently has good connectivity, with speeds increasing each year, low prices, investment from our members and a variety of technology helping to deliver one of the most competitive markets in Europe, with close to 95% coverage by 2017.
However, we agree with the Committee that more now needs to be done to address the remaining 5% and to agree the right framework to increase investment in networks to keep the UK competitive.
We believe a mixture of technologies, supported by highly targeted public funding is the best way to meet the challenge of connecting the final 5%. The Committee recommends limiting the burden of a USO on industry and we feel that it should be funded via public funding rather than an industry levy, given the proven socio-economic benefits broadband provides, such as access to government services.
The Committee could have gone further by calling for reform of the fibre-tax and wayleaves that add time and cost of deploying vital infrastructure, not by suggesting additional costs and burdens on the very industry that is rolling out the infrastructure the country needs.
We are pleased that the Committee acknowledges the breadth and depth of the industry and that connectivity can be provided by using a variety of technical solutions. The Committee makes a number of sensible recommendations to help address the rural broadband challenge and future regulatory decisions, we look forward to hearing Ofcom and Government’s response to the detailed proposals.
Responding to the report, ISPA Chair James Blessing said “ISPA members have invested hugely in bringing superfast broadband to the vast majority of the country utilising a variety of technologies and we re-iterate our call for the new Government to spell out its vision for broadband. ISPA supports the objectives of a USO, but given the socio-economic benefits of broadband we feel public funding should be considered as the fairest option.”