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Digital Connectivity: Hardest-to-reach Premises

Volume 717: debated on Monday 27 June 2022

13. What recent discussions he has had with Cabinet colleagues on improving the digital connectivity of the hardest-to-reach premises as referenced in the levelling-up White Paper. (900725)

I am in regular contact with other Ministers on this subject, which is very important for rural areas. Through Project Gigabit we are investing £5 billion in better broadband. At the start of 2019, just 7% of Welsh households could get gigabit internet; now 51% can. We are investing a further £1 billion in the shared rural network, which will increase 4G coverage in mid and west Wales from 86% to 97%.

The Minister will be aware that some 19% of properties in Ceredigion currently receive broadband speeds of under 10 megabits per second. Although there are plans to improve connectivity in a number of these areas, there are other communities in villages such as Plwmp, Brynhoffnant, Blaenporth, Penrhiwllan, Ffostrasol and Rhydlewis that are not currently subject to any plans. How will the Government ensure that such communities will benefit from improved connectivity even when commercial companies have not thus far brought forward any plans?

That is a very important observation. I mentioned some of the huge investments that we are making and the pace that things are moving, but we want them to happen even more quickly. I have a lot of respect for the hon. Member, and if he would like to discuss further how we can make the new roll-out go even faster, I would love to do that.