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Broadband: Rural Areas

Volume 497: debated on Wednesday 14 October 2009

To ask the Minister of State, Department for Business, Innovation and Skills what plans his Department has to increase the availability of cable broadband in the rural areas of (a) North Yorkshire and (b) England; and if he will make a statement. (291697)

The cable broadband network in the UK is owned and provided by Virgin Media. It is a commercial decision for them whether they should extend this network. However, the Government are working to implement the key broadband recommendations made in the Digital Britain Report to improve the UK's communications infrastructure, namely around the universal service commitment to broadband and Next Generation broadband.

The Universal Service Commitment will ensure the possibility of universal broadband access to virtually all UK homes and businesses at a speed of at least 2Mbps by 2012. The Network Design and Procurement Group will be responsible for the procurement and delivery of the universal service commitment, and will be established by the autumn. Those currently unable to receive a service will be given priority.

The Government are also working to set up the Next Generation Fund to help pay for upgrading the UK telecoms infrastructure, which will help to incentivise the delivery of next generation broadband to the home or business premises in the final third of the UK that the market will not deliver to.