Added by Chris Pateman | Tuesday 23rd August 2016
What was it Harold Wilson said? A week is a long time in politics?
How about 10 years?
Those of us who have always argued that vital, business-underpinning connectivity is too precious a commodity to be apportioned by DCMS ministers or left to BT can take a certain comfort in the extent to which our politicians now ‘get it’. In the space of the last three years, FCS has witnessed a huge change in Parliament: MPs have now not merely heard of broadband, but are pro-actively championing its business-enhancing benefits. Especially in their own constituencies.
Indeed, as the BT/ Broadband Delivery UK 95%-target back-slapping subsides, it’s quite remarkable how equitably that ‘last 5%’ appears to be distributed. Just about everybody’s got a bit, it seems.
Of course, contented, connected constituents tend not to clutter up their MPs’ post-bags with complaints about download speeds. But, equally, the contented majority serve even more strongly to emphasise the marginalized ‘have-nots’.
No doubt this is why so many of our politicians now feel so very firmly that there needs to be an emphasis on excluded communities. Not simply to bring them up to minimum standards, but to deliver something rather better.
FCS commissioned Dods, the Parliamentary monitoring experts, to test the water with a representative group of 81 MPs and a few deliberately rather provocative questions. The results are encouraging.
Take, for example the assertion : “Rural communities don’t need the same quality/reliability as urban communities”. 78% of Tory MPs and 71% of Labour disagreed with that statement. Though it’s perhaps a little concerning that 16% of Labour MPs agreed with it.
Or how about : “Networks should upgrade the hardest-to-reach communities first”. In this case, it was the Labour politicians who came to the fore, 81% agreeing. Perhaps no great surprise, given the people-before-profits agenda. A theme which spilled over somewhat into “Government’s role is to encourage choice and competition among providers”, where the red bars were very much closer to the centre of the chart than the blue ones.
One thing we can all agree on, though: business matters. This has been the absolutely crucial campaigning point for FCS. So it’s hugely encouraging to see the majority of respondents to the vital “It is more important to connect consumers than to connect businesses” statement are now definitely on the ‘disagree’ side of the chart.
You can kind of see where we were going with those questions, I hope. More importantly, I hope you can also see where we are going in the ongoing campaign to enable business customers to really avail themselves of all the sexy functionality their CPs long to sell them.
The tide is turning. Let’s keep the pressure on.