Government's rural broadband plans 'are completely mad' header image

Published: 22nd Jun 2016

The government's plans to improve rural broadband have been criticised by a Liberal Democrat MP.

Writing for the Mirror, MP for Wells Tessa Munt said the coaltion looks likely to miss its target of providing super-fast availability to 90 per cent of homes by 2015. 

She then claimed the fact the government has allowed BT to begin the rollout of improved services in urban areas - which already have a good level of connectivity - first before moving out into the countryside is "completely mad".

"What 'superfast rural broadband' means to me is starting in those parts of England with no coverage and working back into the towns. Not the other way round," Ms Munt stated.

She went on to discuss the problems a lack of fast internet access causes for the people in her constituency. 

"If you don't have a decent broadband connection, life is made harder and sometimes, the best deals - or even your best business opportunities - can pass you by."

She claimed the government should not assume that everyone with a computer will be able to access broadband speeds like those available in London.

Ms Munt revealed she is finding it challenging to learn which areas in constituency will not receive super-fast connectivity through the government rollout. 

The MP said people who are going to miss out have a right to know in advance as this will allow them to look into alternatives, such as satellite broadband. However, she claimed BT has said it does not know which areas will not have access to improved connectivity.

Ms Munt concluded by saying she is worried the government has been "taken to the cleaners" by BT, which must be "laughing all the way to its bank".

The Lib Dem politician is not the first to express concerns about the coaltion's plans for rural broadband, as the Public Accounts Committee has been highly critical of the scheme in recent months.

It has questioned whether public money is being spent effectively and has accused the government of allowing BT to establish a monopoly. This view was supported by the Independent Networks Cooperative Association and other campaign groups.