Labour & Coalition MPs clash over flagging UK internet
But it’s not just the general population’s domestic connections that are the issue.
On top of consumer frustration, a flagging internet infrastructure can also have detrimental effects to the economy, which hardly needs any more of a kick in the face right now.
At various points in recent history, politicians have often told us of their ambitions to boost the general state of the economy through digital means – the last administration’s Digital Britain initiative is a good example of this.
It’s not too obtuse to compare the benefits of better internet connectivity nationwide to the benefits of better transport networks. Though obviously very different in their specific upshots, general benefits to things such as commerce, communications, and attractiveness for businesses to set up shop is arguably comparable.
Politicians largely seem to be agreed on the importance of this – though they naturally differ on how much progress has been made.
Labour’s Onwurah argues the wider economy, which we’ve heard before could use the digital industries as a lifeline out of recession, is being hurt by the divides in connection quality: “It’s not good for our economy, it’s a barrier to both digital inclusion policy and economic growth.
"The rural economy is being held back by the absence of descent broadband. Digital infrastructure is part of our critical economic infrastructure. It is a necessary part of access to global markets, and growing emerging markets will be a primary driver of growth.
"So there are significant dangers [If the UK falls even further behind that of other countries]."
The Coalition’s Vaizey says it is investing and working with local Governments across the country: “Local authorities are currently developing plans to roll-out broadband in their area before they begin procurement.
"We have set a challenging timetable for local authorities and are working closely with them to ensure they make rapid progress. All local authorities bar two are on-track with the timetable we have set."
However Labour clearly isn’t convinced the current measures are sufficient: “There are two roles for Government here. Firstly to set out a vision for our digital infrastructure, where do we want to be as a country in ten, twenty years?
"That’s why the much promised and much delayed Communications Green paper is so important, it can give direction and reassure investors that the Government ‘gets it’ when it comes to the power of the internet.
"The second role of Government is to help deliver the necessary infrastructure in those areas where the market won’t deliver. Now the Government has given BDUK about £1billion to help build out superfast broadband but so far the procurement process is confused and under-resourced and it hasn’t made much progress.”