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Jeremy Corbyn's 'digital manifesto' promises nationwide FTTP broadband rollout

Wednesday, August 31st 2016 by Phil Wilkinson-Jones

Jeremy Corbyn has promised high-speed broadband and mobile connectivity to every home in Britain under a Labour government.

The pledge forms part of Mr Corbyn’s Digital Democracy manifesto, which was launched yesterday as he bids to be re-elected leader of the Labour party.

Mr Corbyn, speaking at the launch, said it is not fair that people living in London can get 4G connectivity while those in rural areas of Cornwall and Wales are struggling for any sort of connection.

His plan is to build a nationwide fibre to the premises network costing a maximum of £25bn.

The network, which would build upon existing fibre rollouts, would be funded by a combination of “all-time low government borrowing costs” and Mr Corbyn’s proposed National Investment Bank.

Mr Corbyn’s manifesto also includes plans for a free-to-use online hub of learning resources called the Open Knowledge Library, a requirement that all publicly funded software is released under an Open Source licence, and a ‘People’s Charter of Digital Liberty Rights’.

During a question and answer session at the launch event, Mr Corbyn said he wants to ensure BT still has a duty to provide universal access and has an “open mind” about nationalising the national broadband network.

'More information is required'

ISPA, the Internet Services Providers’ Association, said in a statement: “There are a number of interesting policy suggestions in the manifesto, including a proposed Digital Bill of Rights to protect civil liberties and the promotion of digital skills, but more information is required over a high speed broadband Universal Service Network.

“ISPA members are already rolling out superfast broadband nationally and locally across the UK that covers over 95% of the country using a range of technologies.

“Industry has led this transformation, and alongside public funding in harder-to-reach areas, speeds have risen significantly from 3.8Mbps in 2006 to 28Mbps today.

“We call on policymakers to focus on reforming regulations and barriers to rollout to make it easier for companies to deliver broadband.”

Owen Smith, Mr Corbyn’s rival in the Labour leadership election, said in an interview with the Countryside Alliance earlier this month: “Access to good broadband should be a right in 21st century Britain, wherever you live.

“Making sure that access to a good broadband connection is on a similar footing to other basic services such as water and electricity will be a priority for me as Labour leader.”

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