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Free broadband for all: UK's Labour vows to part-nationalize BT

Credit: Reuters Studio
Published on November 15, 2019 - Duration: 01:26s

Free broadband for all: UK's Labour vows to part-nationalize BT

The UK Labour party says it will part-nationalize BT if it wins the upcoming election, as part of a plan to offer free broadband to all households.

Julian Satterthwaite reports.

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Free broadband for all: UK's Labour vows to part-nationalize BT

Free broadband for all.

The UK Labour party thinks that sounds like a vote-winner.

It's vowing to part-nationalize telecom operator BT to make it possible.

If it wins the December 12 general election, the opposition party says it will take over units including Openreach.

That's the bit of BT that builds and operates broadband cable networks.

At the moment less than 10% of homes have access to fast full-fiber broadband.

Provision in rural areas is particularly patchy.

The upgrade would be part funded by new taxes on tech giants like Google, Amazon and Facebook.

Labour estimates it would cost more than 15 billion pounds, or about 19 billion dollars.

The BT chief says the total bill could be more like 100 billion pounds.

But Labour says it would cut household bills and boost productivity.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson called the scheme 'crackpot'.

BT was privatized by his Conservative predecessor Margaret Thatcher in 1984 - one of the first in a wave of public sector selloffs.

If Labour wins the tide would head the other way.

It's also promised to take rail, water and utility companies back into public ownership.

Investors have taken note.

BT shares opened sharply lower on Friday.

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