Labour has promised free broadband for all if it wins the general election in a jaw-dropping plan set to cost more than £20 billion.
As part of wider nationalisation proposals, the party has pledged to set up a British Broadband public service to deliver fast and free full-fibre internet to millions.
Labour intends to bring parts of BT into public ownership under plans it said will result in a massive upgrade in the UK’s internet infrastructure.
The party aims to deliver free full-fibre broadband to all individuals and businesses by 2030, with the plan being to integrate the broadband-relevant parts of BT into the new public entity.
The party has already promised to bring the railways, water and mail under public control if it sweeps to power on December 12.
Jeremy Corbyn will make the announcement in Lancaster on Friday and describe the new free public service as central to Labour’s plans to transform the country and economy, bringing communities together in an “inclusive and connected society”.
But Nicky Morgan, the Tory culture sectary, called Labour’s proposal a “fantasy” that “would cost hardworking taxpayers tens of billions”. “What reckless idea will be next?,” she said.
"This is John McDonnell's manifesto," one Labour source close to manifesto talks told me this week. The shadow chancellor is very much in control. https://t.co/Z8Ac52qfxn— Rachel Wearmouth (@REWearmouth) November 14, 2019
The party said the plan will put an end to patchy and slow coverage, and will boost 5G connectivity across the country.
The rollout would begin with communities that have the worst broadband access, including rural and remote communities and some inner city-areas, followed by towns and smaller centres, then by areas currently well served by superfast or ultrafast broadband.
Labour said it will be paid for through the party’s Green Transformation fund and taxing corporations such as Amazon, Facebook and Google, adding it will save the average person £30.30 a month.
They said there would be a one-off capital cost to rollout the full-fibre network of £15.3 billion, in addition to the government’s existing and not yet spent £5 billion commitment.
In a speech on Friday, Corbyn will say: “The internet has become such a central part of our lives. It opens up opportunities for work, creativity, entertainment and friendship. What was once a luxury is now an essential utility.”
Labour shadow chancellor John McDonnell will say: “This is public ownership for the future.
“A plan that will challenge rip-off ‘out-of-contract’ pricing – and that will literally eliminate bills for millions of people across the UK.
“Every part of this plan has been legally vetted, checked with experts and costed.”
Tory minister Morgan said “Corbyn is clearly so desperate to distract from his party’s divisions on Brexit and immigration that he will promise anything, regardless of the cost to taxpayers and whether it can actually be delivered. What reckless idea will be next?”
This article originally appeared on HuffPost.