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Leaked Labour manifesto promises 30Mbps broadband for all by 2022

Thursday, May 11th 2017 by Phil Wilkinson-Jones

Labour’s leaked manifesto promises to deliver universal superfast broadband by 2022.

It also promises “uninterrupted 5G coverage” for urban areas, major roads and railways should Jeremy Corbyn’s party win the General Election on 8 June.

The document, initially leaked to the Daily Mirror and Daily Telegraph, says Labour will deliver a universal 30Mbps service to all UK households by the end of the next Parliament.

Theresa May’s government rejected the idea of setting its new Universal Service Obligation (USO) at 30Mbps last month, instead opting for a 10Mbps minimum speed to be reviewed by Ofcom when superfast take-up reaches 75%.

That rejection was criticised by shadow digital minister Louise Haigh, who pointed out that Ofcom had already worked out the costings for USOs of varying ambition.

The communications watchdog said in December that providing 10Mbps to the 1.4m premises without it would cost around £1.1bn, while a 30Mbps download and 6Mbps upload speed could be delivered for £2bn.

The leaked manifesto, not finalised and needing sign-off from Labour’s shadow cabinet and National Executive Committee, says: “Few things are more crucial to businesses and our economy than a fast and reliable internet connection, but three million households and businesses have been left incapacitated by slow internet.

“The Conservative commitment to just 10mbps will see the 400,000 small businesses and nearly two million homes left with substandard broadband well into the next decade.”

'Connected workforce'

The document also says the UK’s 4G coverage, ranked 54th in the world by the National Infrastructure Commission in December, is “holding British businesses back as more and more of our economy requires a connected workforce”.

It pledges to improve 4G coverage, expand the provision of free public wi-fi in city centres and on public transport, and ensure that “all urban areas as well as major roads and railways have uninterrupted 5G coverage”.

The promise of uninterrupted 5G within five years is an ambitious upgrade on the current government plan to invest £16m in a 5G "mobile technology hub", especially as technical standards for the technology are yet to be agreed.

In the draft manifesto, Labour says it will appoint a digital ambassador to liaise between the government and tech companies, helping firms to “grow and prosper in the digital age”.

It also says it will invest in broadband and “4G extensions” in rural areas.

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