MP welcomes broadband progress and consultation
Arundel & South Downs MP Nick Herbert has welcomed the latest update on broadband connectivity and the launch of a Government consultation to give everyone the legal right to request a connection of 10Mbps.
Ed Vaizey, Minister for Culture and the Digital Economy, wrote to Mr Herbert on Tuesday (29 March) to advise him on the status of the Government’s Superfast Broadband Programme in the Arundel & South Downs constituency. The programme has been delivered in collaboration with West Sussex County Council, with more than half of the public funding provided by central government.
The West Sussex programme has been allocated more than £8 million of government funding to deliver Phase 1 and 2 of the Superfast Broadband Programme. West Sussex County Council has invested £6.26 million in the delivery programme, and BT has added a further £7.6 million.
In the Arundel & South Downs constituency of approximately 46,251 premises, the Department advises that 20,944 premises have been upgraded by commercial deployment, 17,230 have been covered by the publicly supported programme, 636 premises were upgraded between September and December 2015, and a further 1,386 are due to be upgraded in the public programme by the end of March 2017.
According to the official figures, out of the remaining premises without planned access to superfast broadband, 6,681 of them can still access speeds of between 10Mbps and 24 Mbps, and 10 have access to services of less than 10 Mbps.
The letter also provides confirmation of the Government’s commitment to ensure that every premise in the country can access a functional level of broadband of at least 2Mbps through a subsidised satellite broadband connection as part of a Universal Service Obligation (USO). Homes and businesses that wish to find out more should see http://basicbroadbandchecker.culture.gov.uk.
Mr Vaizey, who spoke at a Broadband Summit in Midhurst convened by the Arundel & South Downs MP last year, also announced the launch of a consultation to consider the Government’s approach for implementing a new broadband Universal Service Obligation (USO) in legislation. The consultation will run to 18 April.
The new broadband USO will give people the right to request a connection to broadband with speeds of 10Mbps, no matter where they live, by 2020.
Last month Mr Herbert welcomed a decision by the telecoms regulator, Ofcom, to make the broadband market more competitive, arguing that it was a "step in the right direction". The MP has led calls in the Commons for BT and its broadband delivery arm, Openreach, to be separated so as to improve performance and encourage investment.
Mr Herbert said: “It is welcome news that more premises are being connected through the Government and County Council's broadband programme, and that in a few years every premise will be entitled to get broadband at a reasonable speed. However, there are still rural premises in areas like the South Downs that will be excluded from superfast speeds which today every household needs. I will continue to work on behalf of these communities to ensure that their voice is heard and to help find ways to close this digital divide."
1. To read Ed Vaizey’s letter in full, see http://www.nickherbert.com/data/files/160329_Ed_Vaizey_-Dear_Colleague_Broadband_Letter_.pdf.
2. To read Nick’s news about the Digital Access Summit in November 2015 see http://www.nickherbert.com/news.php/676/minister-pledges-fast-broadband-for-every-home-and-business-in-west-sussex.
3. To read Nick's news in response to the Ofcom report see http://www.nickherbert.com/news.php/700/mp-ofcom-report-on-btopenreach-quota-step-in-the-right-directionquot.