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Community Broadband

Oral Answers to Questions — Culture, Media and Sport – in the House of Commons at 10:30 am on 20th January 2011.

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Photo of Daniel Poulter Daniel Poulter Conservative, Central Suffolk and North Ipswich 10:30 am, 20th January 2011

What recent progress he has made on the roll-out of community broadband; and if he will make a statement.

Photo of Ed Vaizey Ed Vaizey The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport

My officials continue to engage with local authorities, local enterprise partnerships and the devolved Administrations regarding the next wave of funding for superfast broadband as part of the £530 million that we have secured from the TV licence fee settlement. The next locations for funded projects are due to be announced in May 2011.

Photo of Daniel Poulter Daniel Poulter Conservative, Central Suffolk and North Ipswich

As the Minister is aware, Suffolk is a particularly rural county that will derive significant economic benefits from the widespread deployment of high-speed broadband. He will be aware also of our advanced stage of preparedness in having a public-private partnership to deliver it, so will he please be a little more specific and tell us when he is going to announce the timeline for the next delivery phase of those broadband projects?

Photo of Ed Vaizey Ed Vaizey The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport

I am delighted to do that. We have set aside £50 million for the next wave of superfast broadband projects, and as we hope to announce the winners in May, we will shortly be tendering for them.

Photo of Mark Tami Mark Tami Opposition Whip (Commons)

What discussions has the Minister had with BT and other suppliers who still produce maps showing broadband coverage, sign people up and take their money, only for them to find that broadband does not work and probably will not work for many years?

Photo of Ed Vaizey Ed Vaizey The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport

We regularly have discussions with the operators on the advertised broadband speeds that they put out. As Ofcom and the Advertising Standards Authority have made clear, it is very important that broadband operators should be clear about what speeds are available. However, I am happy to pursue further the point that the hon. Gentleman raises.

Photo of Ian Swales Ian Swales Liberal Democrat, Redcar

Is the Minister aware that in many parts of the country broadband access is quite good in domestic premises, because the roll-out of cable TV has dealt with domestic problems, but often very poor in commercial premises in high streets and business parks?

Photo of Ed Vaizey Ed Vaizey The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport

Yes. It is important to emphasise that even in an area where, in theory, superfast broadband already exists, there will still be patches where the broadband connections are not as good. That is why we have set aside such a substantial sum of money to help with the roll-out of broadband.