Tories might break up BT dominance for 100Mbps pledge

Not strictly speaking outsourcing but very interesting to businesses outsourcing IT.


Shadow chancellor George Osborne promised that a Conservative government would deliver 100Mbps broadband services to the ‘majority’ of homes by 2017. Part of this might involve breaking up BT and giving competitors duct access.


Speaking on the Andrew Marr show Osborne said “If there are some parts of the country where the market can’t get to; because I think the best way to deliver this is by breaking up the British Telecom monopoly at the moment which holds back companies like Carphone Warehouse or Virgin. If we find the market can’t do that, then use the BBC license fee, the digital switchover money in the license fee, to get broadband out to the rest of the country, but let’s see first of all if we can have the market delivering that super-fast broadband.”

A BT spokesman said: “The UK boasts one of the most competitive broadband markets in the world with BT having a 25 per cent market share. 99 per cent of homes can access copper broadband, prices are low and close to 20 million homes are already enjoying services.

“Technology is moving on and BT is at the forefront of that revolution. We are investing £1.5 billion to get fibre to at least ten million homes by mid 2012 and we want to go further. Going substantially further will however – as we have seen with other countries – require some form of public sector support and so we look forward to engaging with politicians from every party”.


Look out for more Computer Weekly coverage tomorrow.

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Broadband is likely to become an election issue in some constituencies where speed and availability problems prevail. The Conservatives are proposing to fund next generation broadband in rural areas through the TV license instead of a new tax. They have also stated that they expect 100meg services to be available by 2017 for the majority of households, but they haven't yet provided details of what's going to happen to those currently excluded from broadband, or exactly how many of us will receive faster services.

On the other hand, the current government has not defined what it considers 'next generation' broadband in terms of speed, although it has given a commitment to reach 90% coverage by 2017. Clearly, all parties need to provide more information in the run up to the general election.