Cookies: We use cookies to give you the best possible experience on our site. By continuing to use the site you agree to our use of cookies. Find out more
House of Commons Hansard
x
04 February 2016
Volume 605

The edit just sent has not been saved. The following error was returned:
This content has already been edited and is awaiting review.

11. What recent assessment she has made of the effect of slow broadband services on farmers and other rural businesses. [903455]

The edit just sent has not been saved. The following error was returned:
This content has already been edited and is awaiting review.

Access to fast reliable broadband is of course important for rural areas, as the hon. Lady well knows. There are two indicative measures that we have taken. One was to ensure that by the end of last year anyone who wished to have a 2 megabit service could access such a service. Perhaps more important is the universal service obligation, which will be in place with 10 megabits by 2020.

The edit just sent has not been saved. The following error was returned:
This content has already been edited and is awaiting review.

In 2012, when I criticised the Government for abandoning Labour’s universal broadband commitment, the then Secretary of State said:

“We have a plan and we are going to deliver it.”—[Official Report, 25 October 2012; Vol. 551, c. 1059.]

So was it part of the plan that, in 2016, farmers would still be unable to get the broadband access they need in order to fill out the forms that the Department makes it mandatory to complete online? What is the plan now?

The edit just sent has not been saved. The following error was returned:
This content has already been edited and is awaiting review.

As the hon. Lady is aware, farmers are able to make applications on paper. Also, she is even more aware than I am of the fact that this is an extremely difficult issue to deal with in rural areas. We have just carried out seven very interesting pilots with operations such as Cybermoor to look at different technological solutions, but the key indicator is the universal service obligation of 10 megabits by 2020.

The edit just sent has not been saved. The following error was returned:
This content has already been edited and is awaiting review.

The roll-out of superfast broadband in Devon and Somerset is being hampered by the poor performance of BT Openreach, which still has a virtual monopoly in the area. Is it not time that the Government did something to tackle that monopoly?

The edit just sent has not been saved. The following error was returned:
This content has already been edited and is awaiting review.

The Department for Communities and Local Government leads on this issue. The reason that the seven pilots have been interesting is that they are community-led pilots that have looked at different technological solutions ranging from satellite through to point-to-point wireless connections. We are going to need all those solutions and to involve all the different parties in order to deliver the difficult challenge of rural broadband.