Categories: ProjectsPublic Sector

Prime Minister May ‘Should’ Replace Ed Vaizey As Broadband Minister

Incoming Prime Minister Theresa May has been urged to ditch Ed Vaizey as Minister for the Digital Economy and replace him with someone who has a greater understanding of the UK’s broadband needs – possibly Joanna Shields – by Internet Service Provider Entanet.

Vaizey and the Department for Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS)’s communications projects, most notably Broadband Delivery UK (BDUK), have been subject to frequent criticism from MPs, local government, residents, and businesses.

Government projects have connected more than four million homes and businesses to superfast broadband, but there have been concerns about how the funding has been allocated and what technology (fibre to the cabinet) is being used.

Read More: What next for rural mobile coverage after MIP disappoints?

Government broadband

A 10Mbps universal service obligation (USO) is currently under consultation, while the Mobile Infrastructure Project (MIP) was deemed not be a success by Vaizey himself.

Both minister and department have continually defended their initiatives, but in an open letter, Entanet’s head of service Neil Watson said May should either show Vaizey the door, or separate his role in two.

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“The incumbent, Ed Vaizey MP, has – in our opinion – not been effective in this position due to a lack of experience (his own website describes him as being more artsy than technical) and failing to engage adequately with the industry on crucial matters,” argued Watson.

“Without really shaking things up and creating a separate Department of Communications (wherein the artsier elements of culture, media and creative industries can be dealt with adequately by a Minister of Mr 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.

Read More: Are the government’s satellite broadband plans working?

“To this end, we believe that Baroness Joanna Shields might be a wise choice to fill Mr Vaizey’s shoes.

“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 as Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Internet Safety and Security – suggests to us that she has the abilities necessary to continue to pioneer digital technology within the United Kingdom.”

Baroness Shields was appointed by the outgoing David Cameron last year, and is responsible for protecting children from harmful content, exploitation and cyberbullying. The former Tech City CEO and Chair works with the Home Office to remove extremist material from the Internet. Vaizey has held his position since 2010.

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Steve McCaskill

Steve McCaskill is editor of TechWeekEurope and ChannelBiz. He joined as a reporter in 2011 and covers all areas of IT, with a particular interest in telecommunications, mobile and networking, along with sports technology.

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  • You dreary Tech geeks don't know a good thing when you see it! Ed is the best Arts Minister the country has had since the post was created. Find a boffin if you must but leave the might V alone.

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