Superfast Broadband

Oral Answers to Questions — Culture, Media and Sport – in the House of Commons at 9:30 am on 16th October 2014.

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Photo of David Nuttall David Nuttall Conservative, Bury North 9:30 am, 16th October 2014

What plans he has to provide superfast broadband to those areas not covered by existing policies.

Photo of Ed Vaizey Ed Vaizey Minister of State for Culture and the Digital Economy (Jointly with Department for Business, Innovation and Skills), Minister of State for Culture and the Digital Economy (Jointly with Department for Culture Media and Sport)

I am delighted to hear that question; I look forward to my hon. Friend’s constructive comments about the roll-out of the superfast broadband project, which has seen some £3.5 million invested in Greater Manchester. His point, though, is about the last 5%. As I have already mentioned, there is a £10 million fund and 10 pilot schemes to help us assess the costs of bringing broadband to the last 5%.

Photo of David Nuttall David Nuttall Conservative, Bury North

The problem is that the more the progress on rolling out superfast broadband to the 95%, the greater the disappointment and disillusionment among the remaining 5%, such as among residents in Affetside and parts of Holcombe and Hawkshaw in my constituency. I urge my hon. Friend to work with other Ministers across Government and the private sector to do all that is possible to speed up the delivery of better broadband and ensure that the final 5% do not become the forgotten 5%.

Photo of Ed Vaizey Ed Vaizey Minister of State for Culture and the Digital Economy (Jointly with Department for Business, Innovation and Skills), Minister of State for Culture and the Digital Economy (Jointly with Department for Culture Media and Sport)

They are certainly not forgotten, which is why we are undertaking pilot projects. I am also pleased that in many rural areas the roll-out of superfast broadband is now ahead of schedule. I am certainly happy to look at the situation in Affetside and Holcombe where the cabinets are conversion-enabled. It might be that some of the premises are simply too far from the current cabinet.

Photo of Duncan Hames Duncan Hames Liberal Democrat, Chippenham

What is the Minister doing to take advantage of technologies other than fixed-line solutions to extend superfast broadband to populations outside of the major cities?

Photo of Ed Vaizey Ed Vaizey Minister of State for Culture and the Digital Economy (Jointly with Department for Business, Innovation and Skills), Minister of State for Culture and the Digital Economy (Jointly with Department for Culture Media and Sport)

We have always taken a technologically neutral approach. Obviously, satellite is available throughout the UK, and we have 4G mobile broadband rolling out commercially as well. Indeed the key point about the pilot projects, which I keep banging on about in relation to the last 5%, is that they are experimenting precisely with new technologies to provide cost-effective means of getting to the most difficult premises.