Harman hits out at government broadband action header image

The government's attempts to improve the UK's broadband have not been short of critics over the past few years. 

Harriet Harman is the latest to hit out at the coalition's actions, with the shadow secretary of state for culture, media and sport, claiming too much focus has been placed on speed rather than improving the overall level of connectivity. 

Speaking at the 2014 Parliament & Internet Conference, she said this has cost the economy in excess of £70 million and criticised business minister Ed Vaizey in particular, V3 reports. 

"The minister is currently sweeping these complaints aside, and simply saying to everyone that their concerns are wrong and the situation is marvellous," Ms Harman stated.

She accused Mr Vaizey of being both "complacent" and "in denial" regarding the success of the broadband rollout. 

The politician said had Labour been in power, it would have focused on ensuring widespread connectivity for the whole nation rather than pushing for high speeds in certain areas. "Digital inclusion is essential," she stated.

Responding to these criticisms, Mr Vaizey said Labour's plan to ensure universal broadband speeds of two Mbps were "not ambitious enough".

"I still hear from people receiving seven Mbps that their internet speeds are not fast enough. So we're working to bring superfast broadband to as many as possible," he stated.

Mr Vaizey also claimed the government is on course to meet its target of providing super-fast access to 90 per cent of the UK by 2016. 

The coalition's actions on broadband have been widely criticised ever since its high-speed rollout started and this seems unlikely to change any time soon.

Earlier this month, MSP for Shetland Tavish Scott claimed the project could actually serve to widen the digital divide between urban and rural areas rather than closing it.

He said the rollout needs to focus on hard-to-reach areas that have the slowest broadband rather than the "low-hanging digital fruit" of towns and cities that already have a decent level of connectivity.