Thursday, 19 May 2011

Dig trenches for Britain, Davis tells unemployed

Conservative MP David Davis has called for the government to use unemployed workers to build a nationwide fibre broadband network. Writing in the comfort zone provided by The Times paywall and not even picked up by the Daily Mail who would surely sponsor such a wheeze, Davis admits the government cannot afford to spend £25 billion on a nationwide fibre-to-the-premises (FTTP) network, and says the sum is "more than the ponderous, monopolistic companies in this sector are willing to risk".

However, Davis claims that the biggest cost of installing a fibre network is the physical labour of building the infrastructure - a task he claims could be undertaken by the unemployed. "Building a superfast rural broadband network is largely low-skill - digging trenches, laying pipes, filling them in," Davis writes. "Only a small fraction of the cost is high-tech materials. Why not use use the 2.4 million people who are either jobless or on welfare to build this infrastructure?" Why not just shoot them all now?

Davis claims that the government's current plans to encourage investment in a fibre network are insufficient. "At the moment, the Government intends to direct about £530 million from the BBC licence fee to enable BT to invest £5 billion in laying cable to about 60% of the population, mainly in urban areas," he writes. "This is not enough. There is already a digital divide between rural and urban Britain. There is a real risk that superfast broadband will be an exclusively urban luxury and that rural households and businesses will be left farther behind."

And we wouldn’t want anything resembling a chasm between rich and poor in this country, would we?