New Culture Secretary brings welcome new broadband policy
A change of Culture Secretary has brought about a welcome update to the government's broadband policy.
Maria Miller has only been in her new role for a matter of days, but she's already made one of the biggest broadband strategy announcements of the Conservative-led coalition's time in office.
In a nutshell, the new proposals would allow internet service providers to install their broadband infrastructure without first going through the lengthy process of applying for planning permission from the local council.
Other measures include allowing overhead broadband lines to be connected free of planning (or any other) permission and eradicating the need for long-running negotiations over broadband installations on or under private land.
How much credit Ms Miller can actually take for these plans we don't know - it's perfectly plausible that this announcement would have been made whether or not she landed the role of Culture Secretary.
This doesn't really matter, though. The important thing is that the government has actually taken some action to speed up the often glacial pace of improving the UK's broadband infrastructure.
We're assured that the coalition will legislate on the proposals "immediately", following any necessary consultation, so we're hopeful these measures will see the light of day sooner rather than later.
That said, not everyone's been quite so pleased to hear of the plans. Unsurprisingly, the Local Government Association (LGA) hasn't taken too kindly to the erosion of planning powers for councils across the country.
While we can understand the LGA's beef, this isn't the time to risk slowing down the rollout of super-fast broadband throughout the UK any further.
As a nation, we've already fallen behind many of our Western rivals when it comes to broadband speeds, while the likes of Japan and South Korea might as well be light years ahead, such is the gulf in connectivity between us and them.
At least these new proposals indicate that something's being done to fast-track the rollout of vital next-generation broadband and help us keep pace with the competition.
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