Skip to main content

Full-fibre and Gigabit-capable Broadband

Volume 717: debated on Thursday 7 July 2022

1. What steps her Department is taking to deliver full-fibre and gigabit-capable broadband by 2025. (900932)

In the past three years, national gigabit coverage has rocketed from 6% to 69%. Through Project Gigabit, we are investing £5 billion so that people in hard-to-reach areas can get ultra-reliable gigabit broadband speeds. We have already upgraded more than 600,000 premises and we have over half a billion pounds of contracts out for tender right now. Last week, I also announced £82 million in funding to connect up to 3,000 schools to lightning-fast gigabit broadband.

In too many parts of my constituency, access to good-quality, fast broadband is a real issue for local businesses, and our economy is being held back as a result. However, we are making progress, including an additional 25,000 houses being connected through fast gigabit broadband. Could my right hon. Friend update me and the House on what further progress we can make across my constituency to help those businesses that are struggling with access?

I am pleased that 82% of premises in Keighley can already access a gigabit-capable connection, exceeding the national average. I join my hon. Friend in welcoming the recent progress that has been made. We are making good progress to reach premises not included in the suppliers commercial plan through Project Gigabit. Preparations are under way for the procurement covering Keighley, which is due to start between February and April next year. It was never the case that we were going to be able to go from zero to 100% overnight—I am sure all hon. Members accept that—but we are making excellent progress.

In 2011, Ofcom estimated that only 3% of homes and businesses in East Sussex had access to superfast broadband, putting the county in the fourth quintile nationally. Now the figure stands at 98%. We have also seen local villages such as Westfield and Three Oaks working really hard to take advantage of the Government’s national rural gigabit voucher scheme, supported by the East Sussex rural gigabit top-up scheme. Will my right hon. Friend join me in thanking East Sussex County Council and the parish councils for their hard work and urge other rural communities to take advantage of these schemes to improve their connectivity and boost local economic growth?

I thank my hon. Friend for the work that she did on the Committee that considered the Product Security and Telecommunications Infrastructure Bill—vital legislation to give all parts of the country great connectivity. I join her in thanking East Sussex County Council and parish councils across the country that have supported local communities to benefit from our £210 million gigabit broadband voucher scheme. She rightly highlights the incredible growth in superfast coverage across East Sussex, which has benefited from public subsidy through voucher funding and earlier superfast contracts.