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Volume 460: debated on Thursday 24 May 2007

To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what benchmarking exercises his Department has undertaken on the (a) minimum speed used to define and (b) availability of broadband in the UK and other European countries; and if he will make a statement. (135518)

In order to maximise resources my Department agreed with Ofcom in June 2005 that we would share research data on (a) minimum speeds and (b) availability of broadband. It seemed sensible for Ofcom to lead in light of their responsibilities under the Communications Act 2003.

Ofcom’s report, entitled ‘The International Communications Market report' benchmarks the UK's performance against international competitors and allows us to monitor minimum speed and availability of broadband. We also source research and information from other EU and OECD reports. The latest update of Ofcom’s 'The International Communications Market 2006’ can be found on their website at:

Ofcom define the speed of broadband as being “always on” and providing a bandwidth greater than 128kbit/s. OECD data define the speed of broadband as any connection that has download speeds equal to or faster than 256 Kbit/s.

My Department did commission two reports from 2002 to 2006, which benchmarked the (b) availability of broadband in the UK and other European countries. Both are available on the DTI website.

1. The International and UK Broadband Market Report produced by Ovum. International Broadband Market Comparisons Update

2. The Sophisticated Broadband Services Report produced by Analysys Consulting. Sophisticated Broadband Services Report - May 2006.