When Jeremy Corbyn argues that free broadband is “an essential utility” (Business backlash over Labour broadband plan, 16 November) he harks back to the early years of radio, almost a hundred years ago. John Reith, the first director general of the BBC, would surely have agreed with Corbyn.
The early pioneers of the BBC realised that radio could reach into every home and would provide a universal service for the public good. Radio would be entertaining, enriching and educational, and would inform every citizen in an energised democracy.
Today, the internet is also essential; every home needs access to the information, education and communication that only high-speed broadband can provide. Radio became an essential component of everyday life, and we look back at Reith and his co-workers with admiration and pride. But we need to learn the obvious lesson that mass communication today cannot be the reserve of the few, it must be for everyone.
Professor of media history, Bournemouth University
• Broadband available across the country will immeasurably improve the working and studying lives of millions and should lead to increased productivity, therefore taxes. Schoolchildren will be able to do their homework effectively and those in poor families will not be disadvantaged by the price. Have you noticed how many public services require broadband access? This will now be available for everyone.
The Conservatives might label it communist, but I remember when British Hong Kong had a free telephone service – and that was hardly a communist state! It had just been judged good for business.
This is a case where private enterprise (BT/Openreach) has proved its incompetence (and I write as a shareholder but not a Labour member).
• After reading your article I left the house and crossed the “communist road” outside, pausing only to allow the “communist fire brigade” to pass. I walked along the “communist pavement” and through the “communist park” to our nearby “communist doctors’ surgery”. After my “communist flu jab” I wandered back past the “communist library” and “communist post office” to our “communist marketplace” to pick up some shopping. It was a nice day so I walked up through the “communist Chevin country park” to look down on our surprisingly ordinary town.
Otley, West Yorkshire
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