The Internet should be classified as a public utility in the UK, according to a new report tabled in Parliament.
The report, published by The House of Lords, says Britain is lagging behind other nations in terms of Internet access and speed. It calls for improved efforts in the development of universal access and digital infrastructure, such as in high-speed fibre networks, and as vital to Britain’s international competitiveness.
“We conclude that the Government should define the Internet as a utility service, available for all to access and use,” reads the report summary.
It gives the example of Estonia, which was the first country to include Internet access to its list of essential human rights, as an example of how to approach the issue legislatively.
The report says investment in digital infrastructure is vital to the UK’s long-term competitiveness in the global economy. It cites another report, by Ookla earlier this year, which placed London in a lowly 26th place out of 33 European capitals in terms of high-speed Internet access.
The House of Lords report also highlights so-called ‘not-spots – where ISPs providers are failing to deploy new infrastructure, such as fibre, in areas that makes little economic sense to their businesses – suggesting the government should consider stepping in to ensure good digital access for all communities.