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Broadband

Volume 487: debated on Wednesday 4 February 2009

To ask the Minister of State, Department for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform what assessment he has made of the impact of next generation broadband on the quality of broadband service available to (a) rural and (b) urban communities; and if he will make a statement. (246809)

The Government fully recognise that next generation broadband could have a substantial beneficial impact on both rural and urban communities and economy. We will be examining the question of universality of broadband and options for maximising participation across the UK, as well as the importance of encouraging investment in next generation broadband as part of the Digital Britain Report. There will be an interim report in January, with the full report in late spring.

Ofcom is currently consulting on the appropriate regulatory environment to help support investment in super-fast broadband services, while still promoting competition. It is only by achieving both that consumers will truly benefit from the services these new networks can deliver.

To ask the Minister of State, Department for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform how many of his Department’s staff provided support to the Caio Review. (248896)

This Department provided three permanent members of staff to support the review and one temporary member of staff.

To ask the Minister of State, Department for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform what recent estimate he has made of the number of households which do not have access to broadband internet because (a) local exchanges have not been enabled and (b) shared line devices prevent a broadband connection. (249012)

This Department has made no recent estimates, but BT has enabled exchanges that connect to over 99 per cent. of households. Satellite also provides nationwide geographical coverage.

A shared line device does not necessarily prevent a broadband service, but it is not possible to know this until an order for broadband has been placed and the line tested. BT is also currently working to reduce the number of shared line devices on their network.

To ask the Minister of State, Department for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform what estimate he has made of the number of households that do not have access to broadband internet in (a) the UK, (b) the North East, (c) the Tees Valley and (d) Middlesbrough South and East Cleveland. (249637)

The matter raised is the responsibility of the independent regulator, the Office of Communications (Ofcom), which is accountable to Parliament rather than Ministers. Accordingly, I have asked the chief executive of Ofcom to reply directly to my hon. Friend. Copies of the chief executive’s letter will be placed in the Libraries of the House.

To ask the Minister of State, Department for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform what research his Department has commissioned to compare the extent of broadband internet provision with that of other EU states. (249722)

This Department has not recently commissioned a comparison of broadband internet provision with that of other EU states. To avoid duplication and for reasons of efficiency the Department uses existing resources such as Ofcom's international market reports and other non paid for sources to make international comparisons.