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Volume 495: debated on Wednesday 1 July 2009

To ask the Minister of State, Department for Business, Innovation and Skills what assessment he has made of the effects of provision of universal broadband access at 2Mbps on the global competitiveness of businesses in rural areas. (282000)

[holding answer 25 June 2009]: Faster and more reliable broadband can help rural businesses to develop and adopt more productive, efficient and innovative ways of working enabling them to compete more effectively in the global economy. It can also enable rural businesses to gain access to new markets which may not have been previously possible due to the existence of high barriers to entry and exploit the new business opportunities created by the rapid growth in e-commerce which can extend beyond the UK’s geographical borders.

An initial impact assessment on Universal Service Commitment was published as part of the Digital Britain, but deliberately did not contain any quantitative information on the expected costs and benefits of the Government’s proposals for a Universal Service Commitment for broadband of 2 Mbps, as this may distort the procurement process. A full impact assessment will be carried out after the competitive procurement process has taken place.