Dmitry Naumov - Fotolia
Digital economy minister Ed Vaizey has demonstrated a lack of technical experience and failed to adequately engage with the industry on crucial matters concerning the national broadband roll-out, according to wholesale internet service provider Entanet.
Entanet has published an open letter to incoming prime minister Theresa May urging her to appoint a replacement for the position of digital economy minister.
“Without really shaking things up and creating a separate Department of Communications where the artsier elements of culture, media and creative industries can be dealt with adequately by a minister of Vaizey’s experience, it’s important to have a minister in place who has the ability to understand the communications industry from a technical perspective,” said Entanet head of service Neil Watson.
Vaizey, who campaigned for a remain vote in the referendum on the UK’s membership of the European Union on the basis that Brexit might damage British tech startups, went on to back the then justice secretary Michael Gove for prime minister before his elimination from the Conservative Party leadership contest.
Initially minister for culture, communication and digital industries, Vaizey became digital economy minister with a brief split between the Department for Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) and the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS) in 2014. He kept this position following the 2015 General Election.
He presided over the establishment of the controversial Broadband Delivery UK (BDUK) programme, and oversaw progress towards its target of enabling 95% of premises in the UK to receive a broadband service of 24Mbps by the end of 2017.
Watson argued that the national broadband roll-out, which will continue beyond 2017, now needed someone who better understood how communications technologies could be applied “singularly or in consort” to deliver a true digital economy.
He suggested that life peer Joanna Shields, appointed under-secretary of state and minister for internet safety and security by former prime minister David Cameron in 2015, would be a wise replacement.
“Her experience of technology – which includes everything from streaming video and audio, network storage, online marketing, social media and latterly championing the social responsibilities of the internet – suggests she has the abilities necessary to continue to pioneer digital technology in the UK,” said Watson.
Shields, the 2013 winner of Computer Weekly’s Most Influential Woman in UK IT title, has spent many years advising startups and advocating for digital adoption as former head of Europe for Facebook and CEO of Tech City. In 2013 she founded non-profit WeProtect.org to wipe out online child abuse and exploitation.
DCMS had not commented on the open letter at the time of writing. ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... . . . . . . .. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .