The suggestion that the funds allocated for HS2 would be much better spent on broadband has been regularly made over the past year, by businesses large and small – from Westminster to Manchester (it was a recurrent theme at the Conservative party conference). The reasons the arguments have been ignored are less than obvious – unless the announcement planned for today is designed mainly to give an excuse for postponing bottleneck removal plans for other parts of the rail network.
Meanwhile, opening up head to head competition between fixed (e.g. BT) and mobile (e.g. O2) operators to provide robust wifi, alias ubiquitous broadband, to every urban centre, in co-operation with local authorities and other utilities could do far more, far more quickly, to help transform UK economic prospects.
Is all that is needed for DCMS and BDUK to get out of the way?
Would that it were quite that simple.
But I am convinced that looking at how to bring forward investment in ubiquitous broadband, particularly to those areas (urban and suburban as well as rural) where reducing the cost of delivering public services forms a large part of the business case, is also a far better use of parliamentary time, as well as being more likely to secure the re-election of MPs in marginal constituencies who will be standing for re-election in 2015.
Therefore don’t just whinge. Write to your MP.