Just imagine that every time the Prime Minister wanted to use the internet, he had to go outside Number 10, stand on a chair and hold his phone up to the heavens.
Or run up and down a flight of stairs to turn the router off and on. Or pop round to Number 11 to use their computer. Then wait hours for a document to download.
Naturally, he’d ask his provider for better broadband. The response, if he lived in some parts of the country, would be: it’s too tricky to upgrade you, so we’re not automatically bringing your service into line with the rest of the UK. You can apply for a basic connection, often from a satellite, and you may have to stump up some of the costs of installation.
Why should rural areas put up with this?
Does that sound unfair? It’s reality for hundreds of thousands of people in rural areas. People who told us they really must stand on a chair or sprint downstairs to get a connection.
That’s why when the government announced in 2015 its ambition to put access to broadband on a similar footing to other basic services, such as electricity, there was cause to celebrate. The PM said he wanted to bring fast broadband to everyone by 2020.
That deadline’s rapidly approaching, so the government must get its skates on. And in recent weeks it’s become clear that the commitment may not give us all the superfast connection we need. We’re now told superfast broadband will reach at least 95% of the country by 2017 and the new ‘Universal Service Obligation’ will only give you a legal right to a fast connection, not superfast.
Where does that leave those in the final 5%? You can make an application, but how easy will it be to get connected and how much will you pay? And when it’s done, will your broadband be fast enough to cope with a new generation of digital services?
Even now, people in rural areas struggle to run homes, farms and other businesses with painfully slow internet, below 2Mbps.
If you’re in that 5%, we’re determined you’re not forgotten. We want to work with government to bring in its plans as soon as possible. We want getting connected to be cost effective and simple. In the meantime we’ll make sure your views are heard.