Jeremy Corbyn says that his prospective Labour government would deliver free broadband connectivity to every home and business in the UK by 2030 – by nationalising BT’s broadband network subsidiary, Openreach
Labour’s plans to nationalise Openreach and provide free broadband connectivity to every home and business in the UK would stifle innovation and place a monumental burden on the tax-payer, according to an industry trade association.
techUK, an industry trade group that counts Openreach, BT, Vodafone UK, MLL Telecom and Pure Telecom among its 850 UK members, said that the pledge would have a catastrophic effect on the UK’s digital economy.
“These proposals would be a disaster for the telecoms sector and the customers that it serves. Renationalisation would immediately halt the investment being driven not just by BT but the growing number of new and innovative companies that compete with BT,” said techUK’s CEO, Julian David.
Mr Corbyn’s pledge to provide free broadband connectivity to every home and business in the UK by 2030 would be contingent upon the renationalisation of Openreach – placing a huge burden on the public purse.
“Full Fibre and 5G are the underpinning technologies of our future digital economy and society. The majority of the estimated £30bn cost for Full Fibre is being borne by the private sector. Renationalisation would put this cost back onto the taxpayer, no doubt after years of legal wrangling, wasting precious time when we can least afford it. These proposals would be a huge setback for the UK’s digital economy which is a huge driver for growth.
“The telecoms sector has delivered increased coverage, capacity and quality whilst household spend on telecoms services has remained flat. Put simply, it is delivering for consumers and UK PLC. Labour’s plans are fundamentally misguided and need to be dramatically altered if they are to deliver the infrastructure we all need,” he added.
Mr Corbyn’s promise free broadband for all pledge, comes after current UK Prime Minister, Boris Johnson said that his government would provide access to fibre to the home broadband services to 100 per cent of UK homes and businesses by 2025. Mr Johnson has since been forced to row back on this promise, as the logistical challenges of implementing such a scheme become apparent.
A representative from BT told Total Telecom that the UK’s quest to fast track next generation connectivity was “bigger than any single company” and that it was ready to work with the next government to deliver large scale fibre rollout.
“It should be a top political priority to super-charge the roll-out of full fibre broadband and 5G right across the UK so we can build the digital economy of the future. Whatever the result of the election, we’d encourage the next Government to work with all parts of the industry to achieve that. It’s a national mission that’s bigger than any one company,” the BT spokesperson said.
BT’s chief network architect, Neil McRae, took to Twitter on Thursday to vent his frustration, calling Labour’s proposals “broadband communism”.