A lack of progress in closing the digital divide between urban and rural areas has been caused by the government being preoccupied with the delivery of certain broadband speeds to consumers, according to the House of Lords Communications Committee.
In its 'Broadband for all – an alternative vision' report, the committee said that government policy on delivering certain speeds to consumers has "had a detrimental effect on policy-making and the long-term national interest".
It said that the government needed to focus on the "spectre of a widening digital divide", which could leave some people and businesses behind.
It suggested that the government should return to its previous plan to offer open-access fibre-optic hubs within reach of every community, arguing that current plans for BT's fibre-to-the-home (FTTH) product go against the idea of "an open access fibre-optic hub in which anyone is permitted to build a link between premises in the community and a fibre in the hub".
In terms of broadband speed, the committee acknowledged that a FTTH product would require much investment and therefore endorsed the following idea:
"Given limited resources, policy should be directed at building out an infrastructure to a high specification, not necessarily all the way to people's doors but within their reach, and providing them with the technical and affordable means to connect to it in whatever way they choose themselves."
Ovum's regulation practice leader, Matthew Howett, criticised the committee for failing to explain how much its 45 recommendations would cost and how they would be funded, adding that therefore the report "is likely to be dismissed as nothing more than a pipe dream".
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