THE HOUSE OF LORDS has scrapped the demand it sought for the government's Digital Economy Bill to include a minimum of 30Mbps as a legal minimum for a UK broadband connection to the home.
The change of mind in the Lords, according to the Financial Times, comes as a result of the current Conservative government rushing policies through parliament as part of the traditional "wash up" process that allows governments to speed through unresolved bills when staring down an imminent general election.
Back in February, the House of Lords declared 10Mbps "unfit for usage in a very short time" (INQ would agree, this speed is barely enough to support a standard HD Netflix stream), while at the time Ofcom and the government argued that the "universal service obligation" should be raised over time.
It appears with the 8 June election as an excuse, the government now has its wish, although the Financial Times' source points out that a final debate, also involving BBC regulation and ticket resale laws, could still take place this week before the rushed-through bill becomes instant law.
The present government, including David Cameron's cabinet before Theresa May's current one, however, has a marked history of saying one thing and doing another with regards broadband policy.
Ex-Minister of State for Culture, Communications and Creative Industries repeatedly quoted that "90 per cent of UK homes and business" had already achieved "superfast" broadband speeds.
What wasn't being mentioned was that, while fast broadband was usually being delivered to cabinets, the ‘last mile' between cabinet and home was often still comprised of ancient copper cabling, that BT's Openreach scheme had come nowhere close to replacing.
The "independent" speed tests the government chose to quote were estimating speed between cabinet and home, with no way of knowing the true speeds.
A UK facing at least several years of future legislation in which 10Mbps is deemed a legally acceptable minimum could potentially cost the country opportunity in the global digital business landscape - arguably needed now more than ever as the country speeds towards Brexit. µ
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