LGA chief Mark Hawthorne calls for upload speed pledge

Ministers should extend their pledge to create a legal right for a minimum download speed to upload speeds, according to the Local Government Association.

In May, the government announced that it would create the right for every household to have a right to request a broadband connection with a minimum download speed of 10Mbps, with compensation for those who don’t. 

But Mark Hawthorne, chairman of the Local Government Association people and places board, said that connectivity was about more than just download speeds.

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Speaking after the Office for National Statistics (ONS) released data showing increasing use of the internet, he said: “Today’s statistics lend weight to our calls for download speed to be only one of a basket of indicators that its Universal Service Obligation (USO) must meet. 

“Another should be upload speed – especially in light of ONS data revealing that the majority of people under 44 use the internet to upload content.”

The ONS figures also showed that in 2016 70% of adults accessed the internet on the go using a mobile phone or smartphone, up from 66% in 2015 and nearly double the 2011 estimate of 36%.

Hawthorne said: “Having reliable mobile coverage across the country is essential for residents to be able to access online services wherever they are. 

“Mobile network operators have a number of coverage obligations they need to meet in the coming years and local government has a key role to play alongside government and Ofcom in ensuring they meet these obligations for the benefit of local communities and businesses across the country.

He added that councils have played a “bid role” in the extension of digital connectivity to households through the Superfast Broadband Programme. Around £740 million of the £1.7bn invested in this has come from local government, he said. 

The ONS figures also revealed that internet was used daily or almost daily by 82% of adults in Great Britain in 2016, compared with 78% in 2015 and 35% in 2006.


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