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Labour pledges 'affordable, high speed broadband' for all ahead of election

Monday, April 13th 2015 by Phil Wilkinson-Jones

A Labour government would deliver “affordable, high speed broadband” to the whole of the UK, according to the party’s 2015 manifesto.

The document, launched today in Manchester, says the UK’s economy is developing a network of connections that will revolutionise innovation.

“Labour will ensure that all parts of the country benefit from affordable, high speed broadband by the end of the Parliament,” it says.

The party also pledges to deliver the infrastructure needed to extend mobile coverage and reduce not-spots – areas with little or no mobile signal.

It says it will do this by working with the mobile industry and regulator to maximise private sector investment.

Labour also says it will “support community-based campaigns to reduce the proportion of citizens unable to use the internet and help those who need it to get the skills to make the most of digital technology”.

The manifesto says Labour’s longer-term approach will drive innovation and build on the UK’s strength as a leader in digital technology.

“We are just at the start of the internet revolution,” it says.

“Digital technology has transformed start-up costs making it easier to run your own business. There is a widening in the application of new transformative technologies in the fields of robotics, genetics, 3D printing and Big Data.”

'Transformative'

A report launched last September by Labour Digital, an influential group of digital experts and MPs, called for nationwide access to broadband speeds of 1Gbps.

Cable.co.uk told how the suggestion was welcomed by internet service providers offering gigabit speeds.

Gigaclear CEO Matthew Hare said gigabit broadband nationwide was a “worthy goal” but warned that it wouldn’t come cheap.

“It will be economically transformative, alongside nationwide water supply, electricity and telephony,” he said. “To achieve this goal will require tens of billions of pounds of new investment.”

Mark Collins, CityFibre’s director of strategy and public affairs, said improvements in the UK’s broadband connectivity would require new infrastructure.

“The reality check is that to achieve this we need the networks built to deliver it. Construction needs to start now,” he said.

“Networks that support 1Gbps into homes and up to 10Gbps for businesses need to deploy connections now.

“If Labour want to be elected they need the encouragement and support of new infrastructure providers to help achieve [gigabit broadband] quicker.”

The Conservatives and Greens are expected to launch their manifestos tomorrow, followed by the Liberal Democrats and UKIP later this week.

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