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Digital Connectivity: Rural Areas

Volume 698: debated on Thursday 1 July 2021

What steps his Department is taking to improve digital infrastructure and connectivity in rural areas. (902116)

The Government are focused intently on improving digital infrastructure and connectivity in rural areas, both through the £5 billion Project Gigabit programme and the £1 billion shared rural network. That will deliver huge increases in connectivity across the whole country, while Project Gigabit provides fibre to at least 85% of the country.

I very much welcome Tuesday’s announcement on the shared rural network and the news that 98% of my constituency will receive some form of coverage. However, those who visit Great Snoring and many other villages in my constituency will find that they have to go outside to get a signal, if they get one at all. Will the Minister confirm to me that in order to claim this coverage people have to have a signal sufficiently strong to penetrate a normal building, so they can have a conversation inside and not only in the garden?

The target of the 4G shared rural network is based on outside coverage, but of course the effect of that outside coverage is a huge halo that brings signals indoors: into, as my hon. Friend puts it, normal homes and beyond. I think we will see a really significant improvement in indoor coverage, alongside an improvement on 45,000 km of roads and in 1.2 million businesses and homes across the country.