Ah, election time – the perfect time to promise things that you might not be able to deliver…
The UK Conservative Party has revealed plans to roll out 100 Mbps broadband across most of the UK by 2017.
Speaking to the BBC’s Andrew Marr this morning, Shadow Chancellor George Osbourne compared building a high-speed internet infrastructure to great engineering projects of the past. “In the 19th Century we built the railways, in the 20th Century we built the motorways, in the 21st Century let’s build the super-fast broadband network that will create hundreds of thousands of jobs for Britain.”
The project would be paid for by private investors, with money from the BBC being used in commercially unattractive rural areas.
Smaller-scale high-speed broadband projects are already in the works. BT plans a roll-out of 100 Mbps connections to 40% of the country by 2012, while a scheme in Manchester will see the Oxford Road corridor get the same speed this year. The current UK government also has its own “Next GenerationFund” plans should it be re-elected.
While the Conservatives’ plan sounds fantastic, it does reek of “election promise that will be difficult to see through”. Some rural areas don’t have any kind of broadband connection at all yet. Using the already stretched BBC license fee to fund such an expansion might be too difficult to accomplish by 2017.