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Broadband policy could decide vote for 1 in 5 UK residents

  • One fifth of electorate claims broadband promises will affect the way they vote
  • UK voters want legal minimum broadband speed around 600x faster than it is currently

27 April 2015: Broadband policy is a key issue for the UK electorate in the upcoming election, with nearly one fifth (18%) saying it will affect the way they vote, according to a survey of 2,500 UK residents by broadband, TV and mobile comparison site Cable.co.uk.

When asked if they had to live their life without either one of their fingers or their internet connection which would they choose, one in three (29%) said they would rather lose a finger, while a further 25% claim they couldn't decide between the two.

Commenting on the result of this survey, BT Openreach CEO Joe Garner said:

"With as little as 1% (according to current BBC and YouGov polls) dividing the two leading parties, broadband policy could decide which party triumphs.

Broadband expert and Cable.co.uk editor-in-chief Dan Howdle said of the results:

"It's likely no coincidence that the one in five households in the UK that are yet to have superfast broadband deals made available to them matches proportionately to those who say broadband will affect the way they intend to vote.

"No doubt this is, in part at least, due to the fact that no party manifesto has promised to roll out superfast broadband to 100% of households, and to a deadline acceptable to those whose homes, businesses and childrens' educations are respectively isolated, diminished or stunted by poor connectivity.

"Comparing broadband to the headline issues, it is ironic that while parties seek to connect with us on immigration, welfare and the deficit, those getting a raw deal on connection itself wield the power to swing this election."

Those surveyed also said they want a minimum broadband speed, on average, of 32Mbps – 600 times faster than the speed broadband providers are legally obligated to supply.

Last month, the government announced plans to raise the universal broadband service obligation (USO) – the minimum internet speed UK telecoms companies supply to consumers – from 'dial-up' to 5Mbps.

Meanwhile, the government plans to ensure that everybody can access a basic broadband speed of at least 2Mbps by early 2016.


Does government policy on broadband ever affect the way you vote?

The government has recently promised to raise the universal service obligation (USO) – the legal entitlement to a basic internet service – from dial-up speeds (as they stand now) to 5Mbps broadband. Is this fast enough in your opinion?

How fast (in Mbps) do you think the legal broadband entitlement (USO) should be?

Current party policies on broadband and mobile connectivity

  • The Conservative Party will make ultrafast broadband – speeds of 100Mbps or more – available to “nearly all UK premises as soon as practicable”. The party’s manifesto sets out a £100bn investment in infrastructure, including broadband and mobile.
  • The Labour Party will deliver “affordable, high speed broadband” to the whole of the UK by the end of the Parliament. The party has also pledged to deliver the infrastructure needed to extend mobile coverage and reduce not-spots.
  • The Liberal Democratic Party will “complete the rollout of high-speed broadband, to reach almost every household (99.9%) in the UK”.
  • The UK Independence Party does not mention broadband or mobile in its manifesto.
  • The Green Party will give internet service providers an “obligation to provide affordable high-speed broadband-capable infrastructure to every household and small business”.
  • The Scottish National Party will invest in superfast broadband, so that “at least 95% of premises across Scotland will be able to access fibre broadband by the end of 2017”.
  • Plaid Cymru will deliver 30Mbps broadband to the whole of Wales. The party also wants to ensure “that mobile phone operators provide a better service in all parts of Wales”.

Notes to editors

  • BBC and YouGov election polls can be tracked here: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/politics/poll-tracker
  • Current Ofcom regulations stipulate that BT Openreach and Hull broadband provider Kingston Communications need only deliver a telephone service that provides "data rates that are sufficient to permit internet access", meaning 'dial up' internet (56Kbps or less) is an acceptable minimum.
  • Superfast broadband (24Mbps and above) is currently available to around 80% of UK homes. There are 26m homes in the UK. The government's broadband delivery UK (BDUK) project aims to extend coverage to 95% by the end of 2017.
  • If using our research and/or commentary we would deeply appreciate a link either to this page or to https://www.cable.co.uk


What is Cable?

Cable is a broadband, TV and phone comparator, unique news source and consumer champion.

Dan Howdle has been plugged into the attitudes of UK broadband, TV and mobile customers for over two decades, running research fieldwork both nationally and internationally on behalf of the biggest players in the industry. Dan is now consumer telecoms analyst at Cable, as well as more formally operating in the role of its Director of Communications and Content.

An experienced broadcaster, commentator and writer, Dan has appeared on BBC TV and radio, ITV, Sky and in the national papers. Dan has advised Ofcom on issues surrounding service quality, administered Cable’s Broadband Service Quality Awards and sat on the panel of judges for the Internet Service Providers Association annual awards.

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