• Half of British adults (50%) say they think upgrading Britain’s national broadband network should be the Government’s highest infrastructure priority, ahead of a new runway for an airport in the South East of England, HS2 or Hinkley PointC
  • 82% say upgrading Britain’s national broadband network should be one of the Government’s top three priorities.
  • Ofcom has had more than 75,000 responses sent to its CEO as part of the campaign to ‘Fix Britain’s Internet’ – with all MPs having received emails supporting the separation of Openreach from BT

 

According to new research by ComRes published today, half of UK adults (50%) say, when thinking about the potential benefits to them/their family, upgrading Britain’s national broadband network should be the Government’s main priority out of all the projects tested. The poll, commissioned by the campaign to ‘Fix Britain’s Internet’, found that that the demand to prioritise better broadband (50%) dramatically outstrips  Britons’ appetite for Hinkley Point C nuclear power station (16%), a new runway for an airport in the South East of England (11%) and HS2 (9%).

 

The poll also starkly highlighted that British adults are concerned about the impact of the monopoly-status of Britain’s broadband on consumers, with three in five (61%) saying that one broadband provider owning and controlling the national broadband network would have a negative impact on consumers in Britain. A significant minority (37%) also agree that it is a concern that their internet connection may not be able to cope with their future technological needs.

 

Yesterday it was revealed that Sharon White, the CEO of Ofcom, had so far received over 75,000 responses to the consultation into major reforms of Openreach (the network division of BT) – one of the largest public responses to an Ofcom consultation ever recorded. Politicians from across the country have also seen vocal support for rapid improvements to British broadband, with all MPs having had at least one letter from a constituent backing the campaign, with the following MPs seeing the greatest outcry:

  • Melvyn Stride MP, Central Devon – over 360 responses
  • Geoffrey Cox MP, Torridge and West Devon – over 340 responses
  • Richard Bacon MP, South Norfolk – over 340 responses
  • Ian Blackford MP, Ross, Skye and Lochaber – over 300 responses
  • George Freeman MP, Mid Norfolk – over 300 responses
  • Elizabeth Truss MP, South West Norfolk – over 290 responses
  • Ian Liddell-Grainger MP, Bridgewater and West Somerset – over 290 responses
  • Brendan O'Hara MP, Argyll and Bute – over 280 responses
  • Rebecca Pow MP, Taunton and Deane – over 270 responses
  • Eilidh Whiteford MP, Banff and Buchan – over 270 responses

 

This latest research is part of the nationwide campaign to ‘Fix Britain’s Internet’, which is calling for fast, reliable broadband for everyone which it believes could be best achieved by the structural separation of Openreach from BT Group.  Sharing the concerns of the millions of people across the country who still feel they are limited by poor internet, the campaign members – Sky, TalkTalk, Three, Vodafone and FCS – have said they want to bring better internet connectivity to British communities and help future-proof the UK’s digital economy.

 

Charlie Elphicke, MP for Dover and Deal, said: "Instead of spending taxpayers' cash on more runways and railways for London, the Government should turbocharge the towns and regions of England. That means more money for local roads and superfast broadband for every home and small business.

 

“It’s simply unacceptable that many towns and villages across the country are left cut off. Bloated BT appears more interested in blowing billions on TV football rights than giving every family in Britain proper broadband.

 

"The Government and Ofcom should act on the British people's call for BT to broken up and prices cut."

 

A spokesperson from the FBI campaign said: “We know people value their internet connection, but even we were shocked at how strongly they prioritise it over other infrastructure. For a comparable cost to some of these projects, and significantly less than others, Britain could have the best broadband in the world. Runways, power stations, and railways are important, of course; but, like the rest of our economy today, they are they are all underpinned by Britain’s digital success. If Britain is going to truly be a country for everyone, we must prioritise those things which do the most good, for the most people. Clearly Britons feel that the internet comes top of their list.”

 

 

 

Notes to editors:

  • ComRes interviewed 2,035 British adults between 31st August and 1st September 2016. Data were weighted by age, gender, region and social grade to be representative of all British adults aged 18+. ComRes is a member of the British Polling Council and abides by its rules. Data tables are available on the ComRes website www.comresglobal.com.
  • The research’s key findings include:
  • The internet is considered important both economically and personally for Britons, with more than four in five saying that they think the internet is important for people running a business (89%), the UK economy (85%), the UK education system (84%) or their family (83%).
    • 43% say they think that the internet is important to the value of their property
    • 37% of UK adults say they are concerned that their internet connection will not be able to cope with their future needs (for example using devices that require more bandwidth) – with those in rural areas being more likely to say they are concerned about this (43% vs 36% in urban areas)
    • 57% say they think that their current internet connection is too expensive
  • The cost of Hinkley Point C has been estimated at £18bn;[i] the cost of HS2 has been estimated at £46bn;[ii] the cost of a new runway at Heathrow has been estimated at £18.6bn;[iii] the cost of Crossrail has been estimated at: £14.8bn.[iv] The cost of a cutting edge, fibre to the premise network for the whole of Britain has been estimated at £18-25bn.[v]
  • Populus found that a quarter (25 per cent) of the 2,028 people surveyed on 7-8 September, said they supported Hinkley Point, while nearly half (44 per cent) oppose the plans.
  • According to research by BCG,[vi] the Internet is now the UK’s second-biggest economic contributor behind the property sector, having overtaken manufacturing and retail. In 2016, BCG expects the Internet economy to contribute 12.4 percent of GDP in the UK, compared with a G-20 average of 5.3 percent.
  • The campaign to Fix Britain's Internet is an industry coalition of Sky, TalkTalk, Three, Vodafone, and the Federation of Communication Services, with new companies coming on board every week. We represent millions of consumers and businesses who rely on Openreach, but are let down every day, struggling to get the internet speeds they need. Together, we're asking Ofcom to be brave and make the radical changes needed to create an Openreach that delivers the broadband Britain deserves.

 

[i] http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-37369786

[ii] http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2016/03/21/revealed-hs2-abysmal-value-for-money-at-10-times-the-cost-of-hig/

[iii] http://news.sky.com/story/warning-over-cost-of-airport-expansion-plans-10382958

[iv] http://www.crossrail.co.uk/news/crossrail-in-numbers

[v] http://www.analysysmason.com/PageFiles/5766/Analysys-Mason-final-report-for-BSG-(Sept2008).pdf

[vi] http://www.bcg.com/d/press/1may2015-internet-contributes-10-percent-gdp-uk-economy-12111