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David Davis: Jobless should dig trenches for fat UK pipes

Times paywall effectively suppresses story

The smart choice: opportunity from uncertainty

Maverick Tory MP and former Shadow Home Secretary David Davis used this morning's Times to call for BT to raise an army of unwashed, unemployed oiks to build the UK's next generation broadband network.

The story lay behind Murdoch's paywall undisturbed and garnered with just seven reader comments and five "Recommends", until it was noted by PC Pro.

Davis started with a clear outline of his views: "A workforce of the unemployed should build the superfast network we need so urgently".

He goes onto complain that South Korea and Japan both have more households on superfast broadband. Whether either country depended on an army of under-employed, tracksuit-clad non-network engineers armed with spades is not clear.

Davis said:"Building a superfast rural broadband network is largely low-skill – digging trenches, laying pipes, filling them in. Only a small fraction of the cost is in high-tech materials."

A spokeswoman for BT gently explained the geographical differences between South Korea and, say, Cumbria.

Apart from its mainly urban population, South Korea also benefited from massive government subsidies to the incumbent operator and also benefits from not having had to open up its network to rival operators – as BT has had to do.

The BT spokeswoman said: "Building a superfast broadband network is a complex business involving highly skilled staff. We're currently passing 80,000 premises a week." She added that by 2012, superfast connections in the UK would exceed those in France, the Netherlands, Spain and Italy.

Davis's opinion piece is on The Times website – you'll need to subscribe. ®

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