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Mobile Web: Improved Access

Volume 635: debated on Thursday 8 February 2018

As we have just been hearing, improved digital connectivity is a priority. We have reformed mobile planning laws in England to provide new rights—for example, to build taller masts to improve coverage.

Parts of my central London community have the lowest mobile internet data broadband speeds, including in Rotherhithe, Surrey Docks and south Bermondsey, deeply troubling my constituents who are trying to get the latest “Hanky” app from the Secretary of State’s own provider. Will he guarantee that those areas are included in the roll-out of superfast broadband? Will he confirm whether he supports my council’s bid for Government-funded broadband improvements in Rotherhithe?

I will certainly look at the bid the hon. Gentleman mentions. The point he raises is that the areas in the final 5% that do not have superfast broadband are not all rural. Some are urban. There are complicated reasons for that, in many cases to do with wayleaves and access, especially to multi-dweller units. We are working very hard on this and I will certainly look at his bid for funding.

The broadband network coverage in some of the Blackdown hills is absolutely appalling. The key to getting broadband and the mobile phone network is combined in those hardest-to-hit spots. We have to get more done.

A recent witness at the Scottish Affairs Committee described the Government’s mobile infrastructure project as a disaster. What are the UK Government doing to address that failure?

We had a commitment to reach 90% of the UK landmass with mobile coverage by the end of last year. Ofcom is assessing whether that has been met. We now have a commitment to get it up to 95%. We are doing that largely through a commercial roll-out. There is no doubt that mobile phone coverage is going up. It is just a question whether it is going up fast enough.