Councils call for changes to broadband minimum standard

Some rural areas are in danger of falling into a digital “twilight zone” according to the Local Government Association.

The representative body for local authorities in England has launched a new campaign, Up to Speed, aiming to ensure every resident and business has access to faster broadband.

It warned that the government’s pledge to give everyone a minimum download speed of 10Mbps by 2020 will soon be outdated.

Mark Hawthorne, chairman of the LGA’s People and Places Board, said: “The government’s planned commitment to universal broadband across the country is a significant step forward.

“However there is a real concern that as the broadband needs among households and businesses in rural areas grow they will be left lagging behind because the national minimum standard quickly becomes obsolete.”

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He said that the minimum standard should be altered to become a percentage of average national speeds.

Hawthorne said: “Without this there is the real possibility of some areas – particularly in rural and hard-to-reach areas – falling into a digital twilight zone.”

The LGA has also called for clarification on whether the government will specify a minimum performance for upload speed.

It said that upload speeds were vital for businesses who need to send digital invoices, upload large files to the cloud or publish high resolution images on their websites.

Hawthorne added: “Councils are best placed to understand the digital needs of local areas. They are at the centre of improving mobile connectivity through helping implement superfast broadband programmes, organising local initiatives to raise residents’ and businesses’ digital skills and working with mobile operators to best place infrastructure.”

Colin Marrs

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