UK government aims to be leading EU broadband nation by 2015

UK minister for culture, communications and the creative industries Ed Vaizey has pledged to ensure the UK becomes the leading European nation in terms of speed and penetration of fibre-based broadband services by 2015.

Speaking at Chinese vendor Huawei’s Broadband Forum event in London on Tuesday, the MP said that the UK has the most ambitious plan for broadband services of any European nation.

“For a long time now, the UK has had some of the highest broadband penetration at some of the lowest prices of any major country in Europe. Now, we’re also now making good progress on speed,” he said.

He explained that within the past year, the average broadband speed experienced by consumers has increased from 7.5Mbps to 9Mbps, meaning that the UK has overtaken France and Germany.

“We now have the fastest broadband of any major European country, and two-thirds of subscribers are on speeds of 10Mbps, which is only surpassed by Portugal and Bulgaria.”

He added that in terms of global league tables, the UK has moved from 35th to 21st in terms of broadband speeds and penetration, and said that it will be 14th overall by the end of 2014.

In September 2012, the government allocated £114m (US$185m) government investment to deploy city-wide broadband networks across 10 UK cities, but Vaizey cautioned that financial investment alone is not enough to deliver on the government’s plans.

He therefore vowed that the government will “sweep away the red tape” to speed up the rollout of fibre equipment across the nation. Equipment vendors will be able to set up new street cabinets and overhead telephone lines without the need for planning permission, except in areas of special scientific interest.

“We’re also calling on industry stakeholders and government officials to set up a code of practice for when deploying this infrastructure. This will be along the same lines of the code of practice that mobile operators currently use,” Vaizey added.

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