Cameron: Rural Broadband Investment Vital

Eric is a veteran British tech journalist, currently editing ChannelBiz for NetMediaEurope. With expertise in security, the channel, and Britain's startup culture, through his TechBritannia initiative

The prime minister has underlined the importance of broadband to boost new businesses in rural areas

Waveney MP Peter Aldous prompted David Cameron to comment on the importance of improving the broadband infrastructure in rural Britain.

In a Prime Minister’s Question Time session, Aldous referred to his constituency in Sussex as one of the worst-served parts of the UK for broadband services. He asked Cameron if he agreed that broadband investment in rural areas such as this would boost the economic recovery.

In reply, Cameron said, “Particularly in rural areas, broadband is going to be absolutely vital in driving the creation of the small businesses and growing businesses that will be so important to keep the growth of employment in our country. We must put investment in.”

A Timely Intervention

Aldous (pictured) was hinting to the prime minister that his area was a suitable region to share in the coalition’s promise to spend £530 million on improving the country’s broadband infrastructure.

Not coincidentally, bidding has just ended on the second phase of chancellor George Osborne requests for bids for funding to areas that would not attract  investment from the private sector.

The strategy was forged by the former Labour government when it came under criticism from, the now, culture secretary Jeremy Hunt. When in opposition, he said that the proposed minimum of 2Mbps would not be enough but now he has taken on the mantle to champion the cause.

Recently, the Labour shadow culture secretary Ivan Lewis and former Digital Britain minister Stephen Carter have criticised the coalition government’s plans. Lewis claimed that Labour would have introduced universal broadband by 2012, long before the currently proposed 2015.

Carter said that he did not agree with the shift from 2012 to 2015 and he also criticised the Conservative Party’s opposition that derailed plans for a 50p broadband tax designed to cover the cost of infrastructure improvements.