The UK’s Labour Party has promised free fibre broadband internet for everyone in the country if it wins power in the General Election taking place in four weeks time.
As part of the promise, the party confirmed that every home and business would be connected to free full-fibre broadband by 2030. The party said that it would pay for it by nationalising part of BT and introducing a new tax on tech companies such as Amazon, Google and Facebook.
Speaking to the BBC’s Political Editor, Laura Kuenssberg, Labour’s Shadow Chancellor, John McDonnell said; “It’s visionary I accept that, but other countries are having these visions and we’re not.”
He confirmed that the move would bring the UK’s broadband backbone into government hands, which is currently run by the private sector company Openreach. It itself is a ‘hands-length’ operation controlled by BT, the UK’s biggest fixed line provider.
McDonnell added in the interview; “Everywhere I go they’re saying [they have] either not got broadband at the speeds they need, holding our economy back, or it’s actually impeding on people’s social engagement. We’ll put the extra £15bn in [and] we’ll ensure that broadband reaches the whole the country.”
It would bring full circle the period of time in which BT has been a private company, having been previously government owned prior to its privatisation in the 1980’s, with a significant part of the network that was sold off with the company, coming back into taxpayer ownership.
In a tweet, he added; “This is what real change looks like. It is essential modern infrastructure that will empower people and create great jobs.”
This is what real change looks like. It is essential modern infrastructure that will empower people and create great jobs.
— John McDonnell MP (@johnmcdonnellMP) November 14, 2019
The ability to provide full fibre broadband to every home and business in the country, within a decade is no mean feat, and would cost significant sums of money to achieve. At today’s valuation, the costs would be in the region of £15bn.
The new government-owned infrastructure company would be called “British Broadband”.