Technology

Labour vows to connect communities through public service broadband

The party said it would put an end to patchy and slow coverage, as well as boosting 5G connectivity across the country.

A British Broadband public service will deliver fast and free full-fibre internet to millions of people under a Labour Government, the party has pledged.

Labour intends to bring parts of BT into public ownership under plans it said will result in a massive upgrade in the UK’s internet infrastructure.

Jeremy Corbyn will make the announcement in Lancaster on Friday and describe the new free public service as central to Labour’s plans to transform the country and economy, bringing communities together in an “inclusive and connected society”.

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Labour said its broadband plan would save the average person £30.30 a month (Yui Mok/PA)

The party said the multibillion-pound plan will put an end to patchy and slow coverage, and will boost 5G connectivity across the country.

The rollout would begin with communities that have the worst broadband access, including rural and remote communities and some inner city-areas, followed by towns and smaller centres, then by areas currently well served by superfast or ultrafast broadband.

Labour said it will be paid for through the party’s Green Transformation fund and taxing corporations such as Amazon, Facebook and Google, adding it will save the average person £30.30 a month.

They said there would be a one-off capital cost to rollout the full-fibre network of £15.3 billion, in addition to the Government’s existing and not yet spent £5 billion commitment.

The party will also announce plans for a new Charter of Digital Rights, describing it as “the strongest protection of data and online rights ever enacted”.

They said they will consult on its contents, which could include powers for individuals and collectives to challenge algorithmic injustice, powers for individuals and collectives to prevent the use of digital infrastructure for surveillance, and rights for individuals to protect access to and ownership of their data.

In a speech on Friday, Mr Corbyn will say: “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.”

He will add: “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.”

General Election 2019
Shadow chancellor John McDonnell will describe the plan as ‘public ownership for the future’ (Jacob King/PA)

The party aims to deliver free full-fibre broadband to all individuals and businesses by 2030, with the plan being to integrate the broadband-relevant parts of BT into new public entity, British Broadband.

One of the goals is to deliver the service to at least 15-18 million premises within five years.

Labour shadow chancellor John McDonnell will say: “This is public ownership for the future.

“A plan that will challenge rip-off ‘out-of-contract’ pricing – and that will literally eliminate bills for millions of people across the UK.

“Every part of this plan has been legally vetted, checked with experts and costed.”

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Technology