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Labour pledges free broadband across UK if it wins the General Election

Jasper Hart
November 15, 2019

Part-nationalisation of BT to be funded by tax on tech companies

Labour is pledging to provide free full-fibre broadband for every home and business in the UK if it wins the upcoming General Election.

The government currently has £5 billion set aside for fibre broadband rollout, but Labour says the estimated cost is £15 billion.

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn will outline the party’s plans in a speech today in Lancaster. Shadow chancellor John McDonnell said the plans are fully costed and vetted by experts.

According to Ofcom, full-fibre broadband is available in about eight per cent of UK homes and businesses.

Commenting on the announcement, CEO of UK trade association techUK Julian David said: “These proposals would be a disaster for the telecoms sector and the customers that it serves. Renationalisation would immediately halt the investment being driven not just by BT but the growing number of new and innovative companies that compete with BT. Full Fibre and 5G are the underpinning technologies of our future digital economy and society. The majority of the estimated £30bn cost for Full Fibre is being borne by the private sector.

“Renationalisation would put this cost back onto the taxpayer, no doubt after years of legal wrangling, wasting precious time when we can least afford it. These proposals would be a huge setback for the UK’s digital economy which is a huge driver for growth.

 “The telecoms sector has delivered increased coverage, capacity and quality whilst household spend on telecoms services has remained flat. Put simply, it is delivering for consumers and UK PLC. Labour’s plans are fundamentally misguided and need to be dramatically altered if they are to deliver the infrastructure we all need.”

Secretary of state for Digital, Culture, Media & Sport Nicky Morgan responded to the news on Twitter:

BT CEO Philip Jansen told BBC News that he was happy to work with whichever party wins the election but warned of the potential impact on BT shareholders, employees and pensioners.

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