The Politics of Broadband Connections
In the midst of the election campaign, many will be weighing up their options as they get closer to May the 7th, and making their mark on the ballot paper.
But one thing you may not have considered is how your internet connectivity could be affected by the party which wins your constituency. ThinkBroadband has conducted research which shows the link between parties and superfast connections.
Turns out Labour-controlled constituencies are more likely to have faster broadband. Of the top 30 constituencies where 90% of homes and business premises have speeds of 30Mbps or higher, 16 returned a Labour MP to the last parliament.
Looking at the bottom 30, there seems to be a link between poor connectivity and the Conservatives, as 17 of the areas have a Conservative-run council (which may or may not entirely overlap with the MP’s seat).
The Liberal Democrats seem to come out pretty evenly hit, with five in the top 30 and eight in the bottom 30.
Many of the constituencies with the poorest speeds and coverage are in Scotland and Wales, and include Carmarthen East, Orkney and Shetland, Ceredigion and Dumfriesshire Clydesdale.
On the south coast, Hove and Brighton find themselves in the top 30, and constituencies Carshalton and Wallington, Sutton and Cheam, Walthamstow and Bournemouth East also make the list.
The research was conducted by Andrew Ferguson, who says there may be a link between the parties and connectivity because of the kinds of seats they tend to win. Labour are more prominent in urban seats, where fast broadband is more common and a bigger priority, whereas by contrast, the Conservatives find their heartlands to be in the rural seats, where rolling out superfast speeds has been a slower process.
“The UK telecoms market is amazingly diverse and it is impossible to credit any one single political party for the success or otherwise with respect to what services are available as the current situation is the result of some 30 years of regulation,” he told the BBC.
So what are the three main parties pledging when it comes to broadband in their 2015 manifestos?
The Labour Manifesto reads: “Labour will ensure that all parts of the country benefit from affordable, high speed broadband by the end of the Parliament. We will work with the industry and the regulator to maximise private sector investment and deliver the mobile infrastructure needed to extend coverage and reduce ‘not spots’, including in areas of market failure.”
They also pledge to increase digital skills across the country.
The Liberal Democrats say they will: “Complete the rollout of high-speed broadband, to reach almost every household (99.9%) in the UK as well as small businesses in both rural and urban areas.”
They want to build on the success of Tech Cities, and create a network across the UK.
The Conservatives pledge to: “roll out universal broadband and better mobile phone connections, to ensure everyone is part of the digital economy.”
They say they will secure superfast broadband by the end of 2017, across the UK.
So before you cast your vote on May 7, it could be something else to think about.