Although improvement is still needed to take on likes of Japan and South Korea, says Sajid Javid
The Government’s £1bn investment in the UK’s broadband network has helped it to become one of the fastest and most extensive amongst the major European nations, the Culture Secretary has said.
Speaking at the Conservative Party’s annual conference in Birmingham today, Sajid Javid hailed the expansion of the superfast broadband network, which he said is “reaching every corner of our country” and is set to reach 95 percent of the population by 2017.
Britain now has the most extensive superfast networks of any major European nation; he told his audience, thanks in part to having doubled its fibre coverage over the last four years.
“We know that the internet superhighway is every bit as important as our motorways and our railways,” Javid said.
“So we’re investing almost £1 billion of central government money to take superfast broadband to 95 percent of the country by 2017.”
However, Javid was keen to stress that the UK should not rest upon its laurels when it comes to having an expanding superfast infrastructure, as it still falls far short of the traditionally forward-thinking Asian nations.
Calling for ambitious new government targets to cut the difference between the countries, Mr Javid told Conservative party members that the UK cannot just settle for having better broadband coverage than the likes of France and Germany.
“We need to compete with the likes of Japan and South Korea,” he claimed, saying that although Britain is making progress on connectivity, there is still more to do if it wants to be considered a world leader.
Javid’s comments may come as a surprise to some in the broadband industry, especially following a report from the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) earlier this year which found that much of the UK’s broadband was “not fit for purpose”, with thousands of businesses still stuck on dial-up internet.
The FSB estimated that a staggering 45,000 firms, or 1 percent of the UK’s 4.5 million businesses, are still limited to a dial up internet connection, and highlighted a worrying lack of fibre access in the UK, despite the ongoing fibre deployment by BT through its commercial roll out and the BDUK process.
Javid also said that the government would be making a push to improve phone signal amongst rural communities, criticising the supposed lack of effort from the UK’s mobile operators.
“We need to work harder on improving mobile phone coverage, especially in rural areas,” he said, “There are vast swathes of our countryside where you still cannot get a decent mobile signal and that is just not good enough.”
“Our mobile operators must do more and I will make sure they do.”
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