Neil Parish, a Conservative member of the committee, said: “Access to broadband should be considered a fundamental right. So much of life is conducted online now.


Access to the electricity grid, the gas grid, sewage and fresh water, these are not fundamental rights. Live too far off the system and, well, do without.

You make a choice to live in a rural idyl you have to accept the downsides of that along with hte rural idyl. Just as you’ll have to pay more for your heating oil so too you’ll have to pay moe to get a booster and use mobile broadband.

35 thoughts on “Sigh”

  1. Dear Mr Parish, I hereby consider access to a pristine Jag E-type as a fundamental right. Please have my fellow taxpayers cough up for me. Ta very much.

  2. i don’t think he’s proposing to update Magna Carta TW, just suggesting that when we think about key household services, this is one of them. he’s not saying it should be free, is he?

  3. he’s not saying it should be free, is he?

    Maybe not, but by calling it a “right” he’s saying that someone should be obliged to provide it.

  4. “he’s not saying it should be free, is he?”

    No, he’s just saying everyone else should pay more for their broadband (or pay more taxes to subsidise its provision in remote locations) so his choice to live miles from the rest of civilisation doesn’t cost him anything.

    In other words – twat.

    And it just goes to show how pointless it is to vote Conservative when you get their councillors who use phrases like ‘fundamental rights’ when talking about the provision of goods and services.

  5. “They warn that the government’s plans to make the Internet the “default” option for all public services is “premature” and based on the “incorrect assumption” that people already benefit from rural broadband.”

    It’s also based on the incorrect assumption that people want to use this method. I do, but I have lost count of the number of my mum’s elderly friends I’ve renewed bus passes for or other services because thy have no computer or grandchildren living close enough to assist…

  6. Bloke in North Dorset

    Whilst nobody expects it to be free the argument is how much should it be subsidised, if anything. So far the Government has spent around £2bn on upgrading predominately BTs network and its difficult to see any significant benefit in many rural areas.

    You can find out a lot more here so I won’t fill the comments section.

    As someone who is going to benefit from it I say great, but that’s the selfish bit, when I moved here it wasn’t with the expectation that I would get a subsided connection and I don’t think I should.

    I should point out, though, that there are economic consequences of not having super fast (for any indention of super fast meaning comparable with urban areas) broadband. Businesses are moving away from rural areas and the unseen, businesses not setting up in these rural areas but choosing urban areas such as Bournemouth. This too has costs.

  7. My elderly next door neighbour had a computer with internet, didn’t like it, got rid of it. My dad has a computer with internet and is for ever getting in a mess, in fact I was due to do a support visit this morning (cancelled due to snow) because he’s got his email messed up again. He says it’s lost a load that never arrived. I think he never sent them, somehow. I think anyone recommending an old person have a Windows 8 PC should think again, frankly. I wish he’d never got the bastard.

    As to the argument in the post itself, one subject I can bore for England on (of many) is the nationalisation of the telegraph system in the 1860s- which is the first time you see this “it’s a basic right and rural people are missing out” argument (as well as all the others for State control, e.g. that where there was no competition, it’s “a monopoly” and where there were multiple providers it was “wasteful duplication of resources” and so on).

  8. I disagee.

    The government is making so many services online, and difficult to do another way, that it should make access available locally. Maybe not to every home but to something nearby.

    Access to government services is a right. If the government wants them online to save cash then its there problem

    Not that it needs to be fast broadband for that.

  9. “You do business online, you get access to your banks online. Also of course in the long run it has the potential to reduce the amount of journeying people do, the amount travelling.”

    And all of that requires only dial-up speeds. In fact, I’ve worked on government systems where we did various bits of testing for this purpose.

  10. Bloke in North Dorset


    You don’t need superfast to access and use those services. Furthermore, as others have pointed out the main users of those services in rural areas are the elderly, and most of the ones I know don’t even want a computer let alone be available to afford one. Which raises the next question, who is going to pay for those computers and do all the support work?

  11. Rural living costs. Affordable housing is sometimes built but taxpayers have to provide taxis to ferry kids to school. Having no mains water or relatively cheap gas is also part of the deal, along with a pathetic broadband service which often runs at little more than 0.37Mb. I can open a web page in approximately 7 seconds or download a film in 226 minutes. Tim is right of course: no one forces me to live in the sticks, and my neighbours that do require a decent broadband connection for work install a satellite dish. Unfortunately JuliaM is also correct: a number of old folks lose out.

  12. Har hardy fucking har.

    This message is coming to you via fibre optic cable which connects directly to my modem here in deepest north, most unfashionable part of Japan. NTT (not the government) rolled out the cable, all I have to pay for is the service, and its cheap. BT can’t manage it? Tough shit.

    Some things never change. I remember my parents asking(!) the Post Office for a telephone (early 60s). Sorry, the exchange is full, you’ll have to wait another 5 years.

    Welcome to life in the slow lane, UK. Be sure to keep out of the way of the traffic flying past.

  13. If it’s a ‘fundamental right’ then the British government has been denying fundamental rights to its citizens for hundreds of years, the evil b*stards.

    I expect having a 4K TV will also be said by the same people to be a fundamental right, so I want mine from the government now.

  14. The home workers I know in a bad service area kick up a big stink with their councillors… it’s pretty much the only thing they can do which won’t cost them an arm and a leg.
    Company always offers them fastest available and then if still not happy a desk at HQ with 1 gbs connection. Which they always decline.

  15. I think anyone recommending an old person have a Windows 8 PC should think again, frankly.

    I wouldn’t install Windows (any version) on any computer that I’m going to have to manage.

    My parents got Ubuntu or MacOSX (it varies over time) and no root access. If the intended recipient of the computer has never used one before and just wants email and web browsing, then the only point in favour of Windows – ubiquity – is moot: you’re going to have to show them what to click on anyway, so you may as well use something that works reliably.

    These days, I would probably recommend a Chromebook for that scenario.

  16. “leaving behind the 5 per cent of households who have no access to the Internet at all.”

    5% of households in the UK don’t have a telephone landline? Massively sceptical.

  17. I agree with Neil Parish.

    I also believe that access to a 60″ flatscreen TV is a fundamental human right, as did most of the London rioters.

    Next week we can start lobbying for free eggs, chicken, hamburgers, fish and chips, milk, and beer.

  18. Bloke No Longer In Austria

    I have to keep on explaining to my Austrian friends, that just because Franz Josef set up state bodies to provide water sewage and railways, it’s not a bloody right ! In GB, this was all originally provided by private companies until local and national government became involved. They really can’t get their heads around private ownership of clean water ad that it costs money to provide it.

  19. They are in the process of rolling out broadband to rural areas in Australia, at a horrendous cost. One wag has already pointed out it would be cheaper and easier to simply mail porn DVDs to rural residents instead.

  20. I’m in Dorset; broadband is not top-notch (usually a few MB download and less than one upload), but I filed my tax return online on Saturday and I can access all government services.

    OK, so I couldn’t run an IT business from home, but that’s a commercial issue, not a human rights one or even an access to essential services one.

  21. “should be considered a fundamental right”: I keep telling you, the whole Human Rights approach to politics is rotten to the core. It’s all bollocks.

  22. We need super fast broadband in all homes or otherwise the Big Brother two way screens they are going to install wouldn’t be able to work.

  23. “We need super fast broadband in all homes or otherwise the Big Brother two way screens they are going to install wouldn’t be able to work.”

    This – loosely, being cynical! The more integrated the internet to everything that we do the simpler it is to monitor, track and file.

  24. Access to the internet doesn’t have to be in your home, of course. It could be in the nearest town or village with a good connection. It’s still access.

  25. @ Ian B
    My son agrees with you one thing at least: he advised (he was in super-polite mode, slight change of tone of voice it would have been instructed) me to buy a refurbed PC with Windows 7 when my old PC got to the point where I had to replace it.

  26. @Rob -““leaving behind the 5 per cent of households who have no access to the Internet at all.”

    5% of households in the UK don’t have a telephone landline? Massively sceptical.”

    no internet access at all means no mobile either, nor satellite, yes somewhat sceptical.

  27. There is a strong economic argument for supplying everyone in really remote areas with a Blackberry instead of laying a new landline to remote farmsteads. Twenty years ago Russia chose to set up mobile networks instead of extending/improving landlines. It wouldn’t cost that many £billions to develop an app to transfer data from a Blackberry to a PC and vice versa by a cable.

  28. Essex County Council (via the District Councils) are taking a fairly pragmatic approach to this.

    In the smaller towns and larger villages, they are lobbying/subsidising BT to roll out fibre.

    In the smaller villages and hamlets, they’re working with existing commercial mobile broadband operators to co-ordinate / subsidise where the next tower goes. You’d be surprised how much rural coverage already exists.

    In reality, they’re not creating new services, they’re just speeding up the time-to-market of what will eventually become available commercially in due course. The *real* value that the council is adding is not the subsidy, it’s their ability to bring together accurate supply & demand data, across residential and commercial.

  29. When I moved to Cyprus 12 years ago I was shocked (shocked I tells ya!) to discover there was no broadband in the village I lived in…

    After suffering dial-up for a while I installed a two-way satellite system and shared it wireless with neighbours…

    While ‘telephone broadband’ is now available across many parts of Cyprus large areas are still served by wireless networks.

    It really isn’t rocket science…

  30. The notion of it being a “fundamental right” is indeed absurd, not to mention ignorant. When the telephone line itself isn’t guaranteed – BT’s Universal Service Obligation has a cap of £3400 on installation costs, above which you could be told “no” or “you can have a phoneline if you really want, but it’ll cost you £100,000” – how on earth can broadband be more important?

    (Not to mention, of course, BT and a dozen other companies will quite happily provide you with Internet access anywhere at all, even at speeds exceeding 1 Gbps … it’s just you really, really won’t like the price tag.)

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