Politicians push for fibre network build

The UK should build a full fibre-optic network

Prime Minister Gordon Brown told the Observer newspaper that the creation of high-speed broadband networks could be the modern equivalent of US president Roosevelt’s scheme during the 1930s to get America working again by investing in massive capital projects, such as the freeway system.

“When we talk about the roads and the bridges and the railways that were built in previous times - and those were anti-recession measures taken to help people through difficult times - you could [by comparison] talk about the digital infrastructure and that form of communications revolution at a period when we want to stimulate the economy. It's a very important thing,” said Brown.

David Cameron went further in a speech to the CBI on Monday.

“Fibre optic broadband is changing the way people work and do business, and it has the potential to completely transform our economy,” he said. “It could open up new markets for our creative industries, promote innovation, create new, family-friendly jobs as people can work from home - and help reduce carbon emissions.”

Cameron claimed the UK had some of the slowest broadband speeds in the developed world and was lagging countries such as Germany, Japan and the US in terms of investment in next-generation broadband networks.

“We need to move much faster towards a Britain where high speed networks right into people's homes is the norm for everyone,” he added. “A Conservative government will do everything we can to ensure that the majority of the population should have access to fibre-optic and other forms of high speed broadband within five years and as near as possible, universal coverage within ten years.”

Cameron suggested his government would do everything it could to make investment in a fibre network attractive to telecoms companies, by facilitating private investment and providing a stable regulatory environment so that companies can plan their returns. He also said it would work with local authorities to minimise the costs of the civil works needed to make the network a reality.

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