/ Technology

Broadband rollout frustratingly flops into 2015

Toy workman on computer keyboard

More bad news if you live out in the sticks and struggle to get a decent broadband service. The UK’s commitment to get 2Mbps connections to all Brits by 2012 has now been pushed back by three years.

One gigabit internet will soon make its way to Korea and 100Mbps (megabits per second) broadband should reach all Finns by 2015. I may have lost you already, but suffice to say those numbers should make all us Brits feel insanely jealous.

There was hope that everyone in the country would have access to at least a 2Mbps broadband connection by 2012. Almost three million unconnected Brits relied on this commitment. But the UK’s culture secretary, Jeremy Hunt, has now announced a more ‘realistic target’ of 2015.

Strapped cash scuppers ‘unambitious’ target

Hunt had previously called the 2012 commitment ‘pitifully unambitious’. When comparing it to other countries around the world, it was hard to disagree. Adding another three years to the mix is just depressing.

Insufficient funds have been blamed for the delay, where only leftover cash from the digital TV switchover had been put in the kitty. The previous government’s ‘superfast’ broadband tax, which may have offered a little dosh for the rural broadband rollout, has been scrapped.

Although this government wants the UK to have the ‘best broadband network in Europe’, with questions over funding, it’s unclear where the money to support such an operation will come from. Sadly the UK taxpayer looks like the most obvious choice.

Delay continues Britain’s digital divide

Our broadband expert Ceri Stanaway had this to say on the universal rollout’s delay:

‘Virgin and BT’s improvements to core broadband networks mean many town and city residents have access to superfast broadband, but rural dwellers aren’t so fortunate.

‘The delay in rolling out a basic 2Mbps service will prolong the UK’s digital divide between broadband have and have-nots in terms of access to web services and will come as a blow to many.’

So a target that started out as ‘pitifully unambitious’ has now turned into an unachievable goal. A goal that has now given birth to another ‘commitment’ that could also fall by the wayside.

It might not be too hard to accept that our broadband network won’t be the world’s best, but rural homeowners shouldn’t have to wait this long for a decent connection – especially when their only other option is to cough up thousands of pounds to BT.

Big Al says:
20 July 2010

Living "out in the sticks" I am lucky if I receive 0.5Mbps and my only available supplier BT have got no interest in increasing the speed so this is a "cop-out" by the government as they should be forcing these companies to increase speeds regardless of location, after all I get charged far more for a slower speed than I would if I lived in a major town with higher speeds available.

Richard Kinley says:
22 July 2010

Living in the country generally offers a higher quality of life than living in towns, so lower broadband speeds is hardly a large price to pay. Countryside dwellers can't expect to have all the benefits of living in towns without the drawbacks – I don't hear them crying out for more street crime or noise.

Ann Rotherham says:
29 July 2010

People living in rural areas don’t necessarily expect all the facilities of a town, but trying to run a business – and farming is a business as much as any other enterprise – without decent broadband speed is a major problem.

It’s not a large price to pay, only if you are the one not having to pay it.

22 July 2010


claire says:
5 May 2016

We can’t afford not to. As a mature economy its disgraceful that we don’t have decent broadband across the country , its the modern day equivalent of not having a transportation network. Our economy will suffer if we don’t.

This comment was removed at the request of the user

Could not the speed of the Broadband service be linked to the price one has to pay? It is daylight robbery that someone receiving 0.5Mbs should be paying the same as someone receiving 8.0Mbs.
Surely in this day and age this would not be too difficult to arrange?

Jennifer Edie says:
22 July 2010

I accept the argument that we have to try to balance the nation's budget but increasing broadband speeds would help small businesses in rural areas which would benefit the country as a whole. City dwellers already have plenty of benefits such as easier access to many services and goods. May I suggest we country dwellers are already doing our bit by making more room for the residents of the towns and cities? I'm sure we would all be able to live greener and happier lives if we were not perpetually frustrated by the slow speed of our broadband.

William Rowlands says:
22 July 2010

I live just 5 miles from the centre of Cardiff the capital city of Wales and I'm too far away from the exchange to even get above 2 meg speeds. If they can't even get it right in the cities what chance do we stand. As with everything these days there isn't enouggh money to provide the investment needed.

Ian Smith says:
23 July 2010

How typical of our current political system. One Government spends too much, but not necessarily in the right areas, while the other is obsessed with cutting spending irrespective of its value. Broadband is the ubiquitous lubricant of future political, social, informational, educational, recreational and commercial life. It is abundantly clear to me, even in my dotage, the very future of this Nation’s fabric and economic well being will be profoundly reliant on us having and maintaining the fastest most reliable and extensive broadband capability if we are to remain competitive. How can our politicians be so profoundly stupid in not realising major investment in broadband capability is essential?

See my comment on Broadband speeds also. I understand the physical constraints on distance for ADSL, but why have the ISPs tried to suggest (and sell that) they can deliver what they can’t? A sliding scale of charges must be possible, as they are continually monitoring speeds anyway. I’d happily pay say £3 a month for the 135Kbps I get (or rather got), as long as I could rely on it being there (which it isn’t any more). BT are visiting next week, but I imagine their gambit will be the usual "it’s your internal wiring", rather than their antiquated copper and line sharing switches that they won’t talk about. BT were several years behind the wave on ADSL compared to the US and others. Since then I thought technologies like WiMax were supposed to help out rural areas, but I guess money might be involved.

If 3 million Brits aren’t connected to broadband by now then surely they’re either not interested or they’re located way beyond economical reach. So why the heck should the rest of us pay (via taxes or via increased broadband fees) to pay for ‘the disconnecteds’. Anyone currently not on broadband who lives up a mountain or on an offshore island should do what they do with other amenities and pay the increase themselves. We don’t expect British Gas to connect the entire country – we expect people to get oil delivered for power if that’s the only alternative and fir them to pay for that themselves. Why is the same not true for broadband – if you want it and haven’t got it then, like everyone else, YOU should pay for it.

I do agree that the pricing structure should reflect what you receive from your supplier. As a rural broadband user I am happy with the current 2Mb service I have for my current home and business needs (I am approx. 4 miles out of the nearest town’s exchange from where my line is routed). But then at present I don’t have need for a faster service – I don’t do online gaming, I don’t download games or movies, I don’t watch movies online, etc. But in the future what is to say that I, my family or my business needs won’t change and services are developed which I would need a faster service in order to take advantage of them. I suspect that they will change and I will want faster speed at some point. So if I was paying on a proportional scale for what I receive from my ISP, I’d be happy to pay more for a faster service (on the basis that what I pay currently would be reduced for the reduced speed I have at present).

I disagree that fast broadband speed is a ‘delight’ ( Suzanne above) or considered in any way a luxury. It might not be a necessity now, but it will be very soon. And I don’t agree with parts of the population of a (very) developed nation being left behind based on where they live. We all pay taxes so there should be a way of affording such a necessity. So in principle I am in favour of faster speeds for rural areas regardless of cost.

I did at one time look in to satellite broadband but the cost is prohibitive (installation and monthly payments) for only twice the speed I have now. So not interested. I presume their pricing reflects low take up. But then only offering 4Mb isn’t a great improvement for the cost is it. Perhaps if they could increase their speeds they would have greater take up and the price would come down.

Don’t make assumptions about rural areas automatically getting slower speeds than towns and cities.

I used to live in rural Cumbria and now live in city centre Glasgow. Both exchanges are offering "up to 8Mb" speeds and I consistently had a better speed in Cumbria. Maybe that was because on the stretch of road between me and the exchange there were roughly 40 houses whereas in the same distance here there’s likely to be 60 or more tenement flats each with 8 or even 10 flats in each. That’s a lot more people to share your line from the exchange with, although this might just be skewed logic on my part.

My parents live in the Borders in Scotland (almost as rural as I was in Cumbria) and had "up to 8Mb" speeds months before it was available in most Scottish cities and they still get far better speeds than I do.

For reference I haven’t changed ISP for years and my parents use the same ISP as I do – we are both on the same package too.

Many of your commentators imply that if you live in the country you deserve to put up with such inconveniences as no gas supply, no shops or post office within 12 miles, no public transport at all, frequent power cuts when the lines blow over or get iced up etc.ditto telephone lines when the poles fall over, and of course no broadband.
Which is a rather selfish ‘I’m alright Jack attitude’.
Because there is one business which has to be situated in the countryside and which is vital for even the most self centred townie – farming, and farmers need broadband in the same way as any other big business needs it Farmers and the businesses that support them don’t ‘chose to live in the country’, they have to live in the country
So grow up Charlie Bucket and and Richard Kinley et al.


Here – using Virgin – I can get 2 Mg – 10 Mg – 20 mg and 50 Mg – the cost increases as the speed does.

I’ve chosen 10 Mg as the only film streaming I do is from BBC iplayer which seems perfectly adequate – but it is a true 8.6 to 9.0 Mgs – not say 2 meg masquerading as 10 meg.

To download a complete computer program takes a few minutes

We must protect the fat BT profits,
so why are all the customers complaining?