Labour: Free British broadband for country if we win general election

The 1980s called and it wants its state-owned telco-provider back


Labour will today pledge to give the good folk of Britain free broadband by 2030 by part-nationalising BT - if the political party gets elected.

Under the move, Labour has said it will integrate the broadband-relevant parts of the London-listed company into a new public entity, British Broadband.

That includes its broadband division Openreach, parts of BT Technology, which oversees the backhaul network, BT Enterprise, which retails broadband to business, and BT Consumer, which flogs broadband to individuals.

It said there will be a one-off capital cost to roll out the full-fibre network of £15.3bn in addition to the government's existing and not-yet-spent £5bn commitment, which will be paid for from Labour's Green Transformation Fund.

The party's plans are for the fund to tax multinational corporations such as Amazon, Facebook and Google, and save the average person £30.30 a month.

Meanwhile, the cost of bringing parts of BT into public ownership will be set by Parliament and paid for by swapping bonds for shares.

British Broadband will comprise of British Digital Infrastructure, which will roll-out the public network, and the British Broadband Service, which will deliver free broadband.

BT was privatised in 1984, with half its shares sold to investors, the remaining government stake was flogged off in 1993.

Unsurprisingly, the former state monopoly was unconvinced about the swing back into public-ownership. A BT spokesman said: "It should be a top political priority to super-charge the roll-out of full fibre broadband and 5G right across the UK so we can build the digital economy of the future.

"Whatever the result of the election, we'd encourage the next Government to work with all parts of the industry to achieve that. It's a national mission that's bigger than any one company."

However, Matthew Howett, analyst and founder of Assembly, also said such a move would be extremely difficult to deliver.

"This is a spectacularly bad take by the Labour Party. The almost cut throat competition between broadband rivals has meant faster speeds, improved coverage and lower prices for consumers up and down the country.

"The current government, and independent regulator Ofcom, have spent the last three years incentivising alternative operators to BT to deploy faster fibre technologies. Companies such as Virgin, CityFibre and others have committed billions to rival Openreach. Those plans risk being shelved overnight.

"Only one other country in the world has come close to going down this route, and for a good reason – it’s hard, expensive and fraught with difficulty. Australia’s NBN is years late, massively over budget and offering speeds and technology a fraction of the original political intention."

Labour will also announce plans today for a new Charter of Digital Rights intended to protect data and online rights.

That will include powers for individuals and collectives to challenge algorithmic injustice, where online algorithms cause disproportionate harms to particular groups.

It will also prevent the use of digital infrastructure for surveillance; and hand rights to individuals to protect access to and ownership of their data.

Speaking in Lancashire, Jeremy Corbyn will say today: "A new public service delivering the fastest broadband free to everyone is at the heart of Labour's plans to transform the future of our economy and society.

“The internet has become such a central part of our lives. It opens up opportunities for work, creativity, entertainment and friendship. What was once a luxury is now an essential utility.

"That's why full-fibre broadband must be a public service, bringing communities together, with equal access, in an inclusive and connected society.

"It's time to make the very fastest full-fibre broadband free to everybody, in every home in every corner of our country. Making it free and available to all will open up opportunities for everybody, at the cutting edge of social and economic change.

"By creating British Broadband as a public service, we will lead the world in using public investment to transform our country, reduce people's monthly bills, boost our economy and improve people's quality of life." ®

Similar topics

Broader topics

Narrower topics


Other stories you might like

  • Microsoft Azure to spin up AMD MI200 GPU clusters for 'large scale' AI training
    Windows giant carries a PyTorch for chip designer and its rival Nvidia

    Microsoft Build Microsoft Azure on Thursday revealed it will use AMD's top-tier MI200 Instinct GPUs to perform “large-scale” AI training in the cloud.

    “Azure will be the first public cloud to deploy clusters of AMD's flagship MI200 GPUs for large-scale AI training,” Microsoft CTO Kevin Scott said during the company’s Build conference this week. “We've already started testing these clusters using some of our own AI workloads with great performance.”

    AMD launched its MI200-series GPUs at its Accelerated Datacenter event last fall. The GPUs are based on AMD’s CDNA2 architecture and pack 58 billion transistors and up to 128GB of high-bandwidth memory into a dual-die package.

    Continue reading
  • New York City rips out last city-owned public payphones
    Y'know, those large cellphones fixed in place that you share with everyone and have to put coins in. Y'know, those metal disks representing...

    New York City this week ripped out its last municipally-owned payphones from Times Square to make room for Wi-Fi kiosks from city infrastructure project LinkNYC.

    "NYC's last free-standing payphones were removed today; they'll be replaced with a Link, boosting accessibility and connectivity across the city," LinkNYC said via Twitter.

    Manhattan Borough President Mark Levine said, "Truly the end of an era but also, hopefully, the start of a new one with more equity in technology access!"

    Continue reading
  • Cheers ransomware hits VMware ESXi systems
    Now we can say extortionware has jumped the shark

    Another ransomware strain is targeting VMware ESXi servers, which have been the focus of extortionists and other miscreants in recent months.

    ESXi, a bare-metal hypervisor used by a broad range of organizations throughout the world, has become the target of such ransomware families as LockBit, Hive, and RansomEXX. The ubiquitous use of the technology, and the size of some companies that use it has made it an efficient way for crooks to infect large numbers of virtualized systems and connected devices and equipment, according to researchers with Trend Micro.

    "ESXi is widely used in enterprise settings for server virtualization," Trend Micro noted in a write-up this week. "It is therefore a popular target for ransomware attacks … Compromising ESXi servers has been a scheme used by some notorious cybercriminal groups because it is a means to swiftly spread the ransomware to many devices."

    Continue reading
  • Twitter founder Dorsey beats hasty retweet from the board
    As shareholders sue the social network amid Elon Musk's takeover scramble

    Twitter has officially entered the post-Dorsey age: its founder and two-time CEO's board term expired Wednesday, marking the first time the social media company hasn't had him around in some capacity.

    Jack Dorsey announced his resignation as Twitter chief exec in November 2021, and passed the baton to Parag Agrawal while remaining on the board. Now that board term has ended, and Dorsey has stepped down as expected. Agrawal has taken Dorsey's board seat; Salesforce co-CEO Bret Taylor has assumed the role of Twitter's board chair. 

    In his resignation announcement, Dorsey – who co-founded and is CEO of Block (formerly Square) – said having founders leading the companies they created can be severely limiting for an organization and can serve as a single point of failure. "I believe it's critical a company can stand on its own, free of its founder's influence or direction," Dorsey said. He didn't respond to a request for further comment today. 

    Continue reading
  • Snowflake stock drops as some top customers cut usage
    You might say its valuation is melting away

    IPO darling Snowflake's share price took a beating in an already bearish market for tech stocks after filing weaker than expected financial guidance amid a slowdown in orders from some of its largest customers.

    For its first quarter of fiscal 2023, ended April 30, Snowflake's revenue grew 85 percent year-on-year to $422.4 million. The company made an operating loss of $188.8 million, albeit down from $205.6 million a year ago.

    Although surpassing revenue expectations, the cloud-based data warehousing business saw its valuation tumble 16 percent in extended trading on Wednesday. Its stock price dived from $133 apiece to $117 in after-hours trading, and today is cruising back at $127. That stumble arrived amid a general tech stock sell-off some observers said was overdue.

    Continue reading

Biting the hand that feeds IT © 1998–2022