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Superfast Broadband

Volume 633: debated on Thursday 21 December 2017

6. What recent assessment she has made of progress towards the target of 95% superfast broadband coverage. (903080)

13. What recent assessment she has made of progress towards the target of 95% superfast broadband coverage. (903089)

Superfast broadband is available to more than 94% of homes and businesses in the UK. We are confident that that will reach 95% by the end of the year. More than 4.6 million additional homes and businesses have superfast broadband available for the first time thanks to the Government’s superfast broadband programme.

When it comes to broadband in rural Lincolnshire, there is not much of a season of good will. The fact is that even 150 years ago, the Post Office could roll out a universal service—it did not matter where people lived—but in many rural villages in Lincolnshire, including mine, the broadband is appalling. People are trying to do business in these villages, so will the Minister get his skates on and get BT to roll out broadband to them?

My hon. Friend is quite right, and I have some Christmas cheer for people in Lincolnshire who want better broadband, because yesterday we announced that we are taking forward the legal guarantee for decent high-speed broadband under the universal service obligation. All I can say on this, Mr Speaker, is that all I want for Christmas is USO.

I am not sure how to follow that, Mr Speaker. A number of villages in my constituency, including Spinkhill, Renishaw and those bordering the Peak District national park, are suffering from similar issues to those that have just been raised. Will the Minister outline all the work the Government are doing to try to improve that?

Of course, the USO for broadband will be UK-wide, so wherever someone lives in the UK they will have a legal right to high-speed broadband by 2020.

The right hon. Gentleman makes it all sound very exciting, I must say. I obviously have not lived yet.

Will the Minister join me in welcoming moves by the Advertising Standards Authority to ensure that providers advertise more accurate average broadband speeds rather than “up to” speeds? Will the Government push for that to be introduced immediately rather than next May, as currently proposed?

Yes, I strongly agree with the hon. Gentleman that the promises made on broadband need to be based on what people actually get, and the end of these so-called “up to” speeds cannot happen too soon.

Constituents in parts of my constituency, such as Cadney, Howsham and Cleatham, are getting very poor broadband services at the moment. Do they really have to wait until 2020 for the USO or will the Minister act more quickly?

I would like it to be in place more quickly if possible, but I am not willing to commit to that because this area has been bedevilled in the past by people overpromising and underdelivering. If we can go faster, we will, but we will have it in place by 2020.