Broadband investment could leave UK behind in Europe say CWU

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The Communication Workers Union warns that the UK will fall behind the rest of Europe unless broadband funding and rollout is increased.

Commenting on the government’s announcement on the next phase of superfast broadband, CWU general secretary Billy Hayes said: “While the backing for superfast broadband is welcome, the government is still failing to match Labour’s commitment on funding of a dedicated £1.2 billion Next Generation Fund in addition to other money.

“This government is raiding the BBC licence fee to top up broadband funding and relying on private investment and competition to make up the shortfall. While BT has taken up the mantle, there is no guarantee other providers will do the same.

“We believe that £830 million over the course of two parliaments is too little funding over too long a period. It falls far short of investment by other European countries – notably France which is providing £570 million every year until 2025 – meaning the UK could be left way behind in terms of our communication networks.”

CWU deputy general secretary Andy Kerr added: “Superfast broadband and access to it is proved time and again to be a major driver for jobs and business. However, the ambition of broadband for all has apparently been abandoned by government.

“Today’s announcement talks of broadband reaching ‘all communities’ not all households. We’re very concerned that this is bad news for rural areas, in particular in Wales and Scotland, which may now never see superfast broadband connections.”