Much has been written on the subject of rural broadband and the digital divide and yesterday it all hit the news again as the Government published details of which areas will get how much money towards taking “broadband to all”.
This ranges between zero if you (are lucky enough to?) live in densely populated London to £31million if you live in Devon.
I’m not going to repeat stuff previously written on this other than to say I see the government is caught between a rock and a hard place – the few organisations able to deliver scale are unlikely to deliver what’s best and more over cost effective for the longer term prosperity of UK plc. I don’t however see an alternative strongly waving a flag saying “this is how it should be done”.
There are islands of hope – for example B4RN. However B4RN is lucky enough to have someone local called Barry Forde driving the project that really understands what he is talking about.
I listened to BF and a council official being interviewed on Radio 5 Live yesterday afternoon. Not only did the presenters not know what they were talking about but neither did the council official. How can we expect local authorities to create projects in their regions if they don’t understand the issues facing them? The outcome is that councils resort to accepting the friendly arm round the shoulder from a incumbent whose goal in life is not to help them but to take as much of their money as they can.
It would make sense to me for some of the BDUK broadband cash to be used to fund independently provided educational programmes for people wanting to champion local broadband network projects. At least then they would be able to make informed decisions about what to do with the money.
PS I realise it is a game but I do wish the Government would drop this PR spiel about having the “best superfast broadband network in Europe by the end of this parliament”. Who is kidding who?