TechnologyBroadband plans under fire

Broadband plans under fire

The government has come under fire from vendors, pressure groups and analysts for failing to develop a coherent national strategy to roll out broadband.

The Countryside Alliance and Federation of Small Businesses have spoken out about a ‘widening digital divide’ in geographical terms.

A spokesman for the FSB accused some regional development agencies (RDAs) of doing nothing to back broadband, and that regional businesses were suffering as a result.

‘There is a lack of continuity across RDAs. Some are doing a lot, some nothing,’ the spokesman said. ‘The government has got to set them clear guidelines and strategies or be prepared to take back responsibility to central government. Some areas of the country will also need subsidies.’

In an attempt to close any gap, ecommerce minister Stephen Timms is to appoint a broadband director who he says will play a ‘big role’ in extending broadband availability.

BT has also called for more local initiatives but, given its own conservative attitude to non-urban broadband, analysts have questioned the right of the telco to make such criticisms. BT largely shuns non-ADSL technologies and demands up front guarantees and subsidies before upgrading exchanges.

But lobbyists say BT has a point when it argues the government has little hope of reaching its target of connecting all schools, GP surgeries and courts with broadband by 2006.

This is especially true in rural areas, unless time scales for implementing public/private broadband initiatives are speeded up.

‘Government efforts have been too slow. We are seeing a glimmer of light but the industry as a whole is strapped for cash so if the government is to meet its set targets it can’t take so long to deliver its strategies,’ said Trish Jones, director for regional broadband partnerships at BT.

Analysts agree that a lack of a coherent strategy is behind many of the problems, but warn the answer is more complex than throwing taxpayers’ money behind BT’s ADSL technology.

Additional methods of delivering broadband have to be made commercially viable.

The Broadband Stakeholder Group continues to urge local organisations to consider a range of services, from cable and satellite to fixed wireless, to find the one that best suits their needs. ‘There are currently a lot of activities to stimulate broadband on a local level but these are unco-ordinated,’ said David Brown, analyst with Schema.

‘While BT has a role to play, there are other technologies that could be more suitable for broadband in rural areas,’ he added.

For more on government broadband initiatives, visit www.e-envoy.gov.uk.

Related Articles

HMRC outlines points-based penalty model for MTD

MTD HMRC outlines points-based penalty model for MTD

2d Alia Shoaib, Reporter
GDPR: How legitimate are your legitimate interests?

Regulation GDPR: How legitimate are your legitimate interests?

1w Ian Singer, PKF Littlejohn
Viewpoint: Making Tax Digital is not all doom and gloom

Making Tax Digital Viewpoint: Making Tax Digital is not all doom and gloom

1w Brian Palmer, AAT
Treasury cracks down on Bitcoin amid tax evasion concerns

Regulation Treasury cracks down on Bitcoin amid tax evasion concerns

2w Alia Shoaib, Reporter
AVADO wins award for online ACCA courses

Career AVADO wins award for online ACCA courses

2w Alia Shoaib, Reporter
The role of the accountant as productivity and technology leader

Technology The role of the accountant as productivity and technology leader

2w Receipt Bank | Sponsored
Accountancy in the digital age: Flexibility, agility, efficiency

Accounting Software Accountancy in the digital age: Flexibility, agility, efficiency

3w Pegasus Software | Sponsored
How to get your clients ready for the cloud

Cloud How to get your clients ready for the cloud

3w Sage | Sponsored