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Volume 405: debated on Friday 16 May 2003

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To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what assessment she has made of the availability of broadband technologies that do not use wire or cable to achieve connections; and if she will make a statement. [112657]

Broadband fixed wireless access offers broadband to around 12 per cent, of the UK and broadband via satellite is available across the UK.

To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what discussions she has had with British Telecom about its technological capacity (a) to guarantee that where the broadband service is offered it can be properly and successfully provided and (b) to introduce broadband connectivity throughout the UK. [112995]

My Department maintains regular contacts with BT across a wide range of technological issues as we do with other broadband providers. The Broadband Stakeholder Group, consisting of key players throughout the broadband value chain from public and private sectors, exists to ensure the fastest possible roll out of broadband across the country while remaining technology neutral.Around 70 per cent, of the UK already has access to broadband.

To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what steps she has taken to ensure that broadband provision becomes part of the universal service obligation in the EU review due by 2005. [113072]

Directive 2002/22/EC ("Universal Service Directive") concerns universal service and users' rights relating to electronic communications networks and services.Article 36(3) requires the European Commission to review the functioning of the Directive for the first time in 2005 and to report to the European Parliament and to the Council. The member states and National Regulatory Authorities must supply the necessary information to the Commission for this purpose.When the review is announced the UK will provide information on all aspects of the functioning of the Directive requested by the Commission. It is too early to say at this stage whether it would be appropriate to consider broadband provision within the scope of the universal services to be mandated at Community level.