The government has hit back against comments from former BT CTO Peter Cochrane that it is ‘visionless' in its attempt to implement broadband across the UK, by insisting that it has a clear plan.
Meanwhile, BT has slammed Cochrane over his demand for fibre-to-the-home (FTTH) broadband, arguing that there is not enough demand for the service.
Last week, in an interview with Computing, Cochrane labelled minister for culture Ed Vaizey's comments that 2Mbit/s broadband would be sufficient for UK citizens as "dumb" and suggested that Vaizey did not understand the need of fast broadband.
In response, a Department of Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) spokesman explained that broadband was "essential" to achieving the government's top priority of sustainable and balanced economic growth
"Our target is for 90 per cent of homes and businesses in each local authority area to have access to superfast broadband by 2015. For the remaining homes and businesses located in areas that are either remote or geographically challenging we have set a target of access to at least 2Mbit/s – ensuring that virtually every premise in the UK will have a broadband connection," he told Computing.
Cochrane had encouraged the government to "sit down and put together a business plan for the nation", arguing that otherwise decisions would make no sense and "waste vast amounts of money". He also said that BT had no reason to invest in the network, suggesting that it should be the government forking out for FTTH broadband capability.
"The government is providing £530m to make this happen. This investment is unlocking considerably more from local authorities and the private sector," responded the DCMS spokesman.
"The suggestion is that the government lacks vision and doesn't understand the necessity of broadband and this is hampering the UK economy – [our] response makes clear that this is not the case," he added.
Last week, Cochrane also laughed off suggestions that there was no need for FTTH.
"There is a lot of misinformation – I've heard people ask why the UK needs FTTH, as although it provides 100Mbit/s to the home it ‘only' gives 10Mbit/s upload, but this is a stupid statement," he said.
In response, BT insisted that the speeds it looks to deploy will be fast enough for customers and emphasised that there was not yet a big enough demand for FTTH.
"We strongly disagree with the claim that broadband speeds won't be fast enough; speeds of up to 80Mbit/s will be widely available," a BT spokesperson told Computing.
"While FTTH on demand will be on hand for anyone who needs even faster speeds, there are currently no consumer services that require hundreds of Mbit/s and no evidence of widespread demand for FTTH, so our approach makes sense. The network is future proof without the need for [an additional] £30bn to be spent," he added.