Political Parties fudge broadband test

The recent launch of the parties’ election manifestos clearly shows that all of them have fudged their broadband policies, says the Final Third First.
A spokesman for Final Third First said: “Just by reading the manifesto commitments, or otherwise, of the political parties it is obvious that each one of them have mistaken headlines for policy. Unfortunately, the Labour Party originally mentioned megabytes and not megabits in its manifesto, the Conservatives,  while supporting the needs of music industry by supporting the Digital Economy Bill,  refused to support a budget provision to assist connectivity in rural areas, and believe that only the market can deliver in rural areas where existing market policies have failed. The Lib Dems have yet to come up with a definitive policy.
“All wish to auction the ‘Digital Dividend’ radio spectrum to the highest bidder at the expense of coverage and quality targets for this critical resource in the belief that no one will notice, whilst taking no action to allow fixed and mobile connectivity resources to converge.  Disappointingly, the parties’ priorities were to force through a very poorly considered and poorly debated Digital Economy Bill written around the needs of the music industry,  while taking away the financial support needed to fix the nation’s rural connectivity.
“This lack of a definitive consistent action plan is simply unacceptable. We are expected to believe that delivering ‘superband’ to most of the country will translate into upgrades in rural areas.  So far, we have seen nothing of the sort. We therefore call on the future government to adopt the seven principles set out below to ensure that everyone can get high quality broadband now.
“It is vitally important that the electorate are involved in voicing their concerns regarding the lack of superfast broadband. Talk to prospective MPs about broadband and involve those who make the decisions at all levels, be it at Parish, District or County Council level. Only by doing this can we create the necessary resources for a nationwide, coherent solution to the problems that those in the final third face today.”
The Final Third First’s 7 Principles
1.    We believe that the Final Third – the 30%+ of the UK where market failure is predicted for next generation access and superfast broadband –  should   be the first to receive public sector intervention and support.
2.    We believe that ‘broadband’ is the 4th utility and universal access to that utility should be a priority.
3.    We believe that a key target for the country is that by 2012 everyone, wherever they live, should have access to a minimum of 2Mbps broadband  connectivity (line access speed and peak hour throughput) that enables universal access to present day websites, applications and services.
4.    FTF acknowledges the developments of optic fibre to the home (FTTH) networks in other countries and the position from which the UK must catch up. We believe that in every possible instance, next generation network components should be used so the minimum commitment can be met and exceeded.
5.    FTF recognises that there will need to be a variety of solutions to connect every home. However, every home and business must have an equal opportunity to access sufficient quality bandwidth, whichever technology is chosen.
6.    FTF insists that communication providers must meet specific coverage and quality of service for all connections. This includes mobile coverage
7.    FTF believes all next generation access networks built with public monies must be subject to Open and Equivalent access so that any provider can offer services to consumers and businesses on that network.
Notes to Editors:
1.                   The founding members of The Final Third First Campaign are: Country Land and Business Association, Digital Dales, Neil Blake (Ewelme Parish Council), Wray Community Communications, Pitchup.com, Vtesse Networks, Rutland Telecom, Broadband Britain, NextGenUs, County Broadband, Richard Hull (Chair 3-C Ltd and RATS Ltd), Bob Franklin (Telcoconsulting.co.uk), Community Lincs, ACRE, Plunkett Foundation.
2.                   If you would like to join or support the Final Third First campaign please contact Charles Trotman (charles.trotman@cla.org.uk) or look at our website  www.finalthirdfirst.wordpress.com
3.                   For further information, please contact Charles Trotman on 0207 460 7939 or 07702 926059 or visit our website http://www.finalthirdfirst.wordpress.com
Dr Charles Trotman
Head of Rural Business Development
Country Land and Business Association
16 Belgrave Square
London SW1X 8PQ
Tel: 0207 460 7939
E-mail: Charles.Trotman@cla.org.uk
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