A report from the National Audit Office out today revealed that the roll-out of rural broadband is two years behind schedule. Stian Westlake, Nesta’s Executive Director of Policy & Research comments.

"Delays in the roll-out of rural broadband threaten to further exclude rural communities - and the UK as a whole - from the 'new industrial revolution' that increased bandwidth will provide. This news comes with crippling economic consequences: broadband is a stimulus to innovation and long term economic growth in the 21st Century economy - just as trains were to the industrial revolution.

"Some of the most exciting breakthroughs we might expect to see in the next decade or two will depend on infrastructure like superfast broadband. Indeed, Korea has spent $25 billion in deploying superfast broadband, an investment that has helped make it a global hub for the development of video games, new online services, and cloud computing. In the UK, broadband is the life blood of our creative industries, which represent 10% of the UK economy and have grown four times faster than our the UK workforce as a whole. Bandwidth usage increases 50 per cent year on year: a two year delay in roll-out will not just isolate our rural communities, but the wider UK economy too.

"Projects like Broadband for the Rural North (B4RN) in Arkholme are showing that you can deploy super-fast fibre broadband to rural areas cheaply. The incumbent providers should learn from these innovative, community-led projects. For half the cost of the over-budget and discredited HS2 project, we could provide every home in the country with 1,000Mbps fibre optic broadband. This report provides a good chance to ask ourselves whether our limited resources are best spent on railways, the infrastructure of the 19th Century, or nationwide broadband, the infrastructure of the twenty-first."

Stian Westlake

Photo taken by Dimitry B.