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Rural Broadband

Volume 720: debated on Thursday 20 October 2022

We are investing £5 billion in Project Gigabit so that hard-to-reach areas can get ultra-reliable gigabit speeds. We have already upgraded over 740,000 premises. National gigabit coverage has therefore rocketed to 71%, up from just 6% in January 2019. We have already launched procurements with a value of over £700 million to deliver gigabit connections to hard-to-reach homes and businesses across the UK. We recently signed our first contracts in north Dorset and Teesdale, with more coming soon.

My constituents in Throwley and Wichling were incredibly disappointed to find that their bids for gigabit vouchers were unsuccessful, especially after they worked so hard to gather community support. While most people are able to use their broadband to do video calls, work from home, and stream movies and matches, those constituents cannot. Can my hon. Friend assure me that they will be getting fast broadband soon?

I thank my hon. Friend for raising this case and for all the work that she and her team did to help those villages. I asked officials to look into this case, and they told me that the broadband supplier responsible for the projects in those villages did not put them forward for consideration as a voucher priority area, on the basis that they were not expected to deliver a gigabit-capable connection faster than our own Project Gigabit procurement in Kent. In good news, I can assure my hon. Friend that we are making very good progress on that procurement and we hope to be able to launch it in the coming weeks.