Call for 30 Mbps minimum broadband speed is scrapped ahead of the general election

Ahead of this year’s snap general election, the House of Lords has decided to scrap its demand for a minimum broadband speed of 30 Mbps to be a part of the government’s Digital Economy Bill.

The decision is a result of the Conservative government rushing policies through parliament as part of the “wash up” process that is typical ahead of a general election. Unfinished bills cannot be carried over from one parliament to the next, which means the current government is reliant on the cooperation of the Opposition to secure its legislation.

The Government and the Opposition reach agreements on the bills—or parts of bills—that should be hurried through their remaining parliamentary stages to reach the statute book before dissolution. Sometimes the Government is willing to drop certain bills, or certain provisions, to secure the passage of others.

With the next general election set for the 8th June 2017 – parliament must be dissolved 25 days before. This means parliament will be dissolved at one minute past midnight on 3 May 2017 and outstanding public bills must be dealt with before then.

Back in February, the House of Lords put forward the argument the current 10Mbps minimum is “unfit for usage in a very short time” while Ofcom and the government said the speed obligation should be raised over time. With 10 Mbps barely able to handle an HD Netflix stream; it’s easy to see why the target should be more ambitious.

Openreach still has a long way to go to replace traditional infrastructure. While high-speed broadband is now being delivered to many cabinets, the ‘last mile’ is still mostly comprised of copper cabling.

The speeds quoted by the government in their tests were estimates and not based on true speeds. Today’s announcement is a big setback as it could mean 10 Mbps is seen as the bare minimum and provides little incentive to improve UK broadband speeds. For some comparison, the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) ruled that minimum broadband speeds of 50 Mbps download and 10 Mbps upload speeds are now a "basic telecommunications service."

Are you disappointed to see the minimum broadband speed demands scrapped? Let us know in the comments.

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