This Department has not allocated central funding for expansion of high-speed broadband usage in (a) Mid Bedfordshire and (b) the Eastern region since 1997.
As the hon. Member may already be aware, in the Budget on 22 April the Chancellor confirmed the Government’s commitment to delivering a universal service for broadband at a speed of 2 megabits per second, by no later than 2012. In the Digital Britain report, we will set out in greater detail our plan of how the universal service commitment might work and we will be publishing the report very shortly.
This Department has made no recent steps to ensure competitiveness among high-speed broadband providers specifically in Mid Bedfordshire. However, through Ofcom, the Government have ensured that the majority of consumers across the country benefit from competition in the broadband market by ensuring wholesale access to the BT Openreach network, and the Local Loop Unbundling of BT Exchanges.
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 the hon. Member. Copies of the chief executive's letter will be placed in both the Libraries of the House.