Lords' communications committee concern on broadband focus on speed over reach of service

A House of Lords committee has warned the government that its broadband strategy risks leaving communities behind by focusing on speed over reach of service.

The committee has claimed that the strategy by the government to provide the best superfast broadband network in Europe by 2015 is misguided, suggesting that it should instead focus on closing the digital divide within communities.

BBC News reports that the Lords communications committee said it had found there was "a very real risk that some people and businesses are being left behind, that inadequate access to the internet and all its benefits is actually afflicting their daily lives".

The committee congratulated the government for making enhanced broadband a priority but said it had proceeded from a "flawed prospectus" and become "preoccupied with the delivery of certain speeds".

The committee’s report said: "The delivery of certain speeds should not be the guiding principle; what is important is the long term assurance that as new internet applications emerge, everyone will be able to benefit, from inhabitants of inner cities to the remotest areas of the UK."

It calls for the creation of a network of fibre-optic hubs, which would get fast broadband to local communities and businesses when they wanted it. Broadband should be treated as a vital national asset, like roads, rail and energy.

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