Universal Service Obligation (Broadband)

BBC – in the House of Commons at 9:30 am on 9th July 2015.

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Photo of Alan Brown Alan Brown Scottish National Party, Kilmarnock and Loudoun 9:30 am, 9th July 2015

What assessment he has made of the potential merits of a legally binding universal service obligation for broadband access across the UK.

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)

As part of the digital communications infrastructure review published in March, we said that we would look into a universal service obligation of 5 megabits, as that could be particularly helpful in reaching the last 5% for broadband access.

Photo of Alan Brown Alan Brown Scottish National Party, Kilmarnock and Loudoun

I thank the Minister for his answer and urge him to implement a universal service obligation as soon as possible in order to achieve that final 5%. I represent a constituency whose rural areas suffer from a lack of broadband, but the large town of Kilmarnock, with 50,000 people, also has areas that lack broadband access. The UK is rightly proud of the Royal Mail’s universal service obligation, and the 21st century equivalent should be a similar obligation for broadband.

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 grateful to the hon. Gentleman for his question about helping urban areas that do not have superfast broadband. He is right to point that out, as about a fifth of the last 5% are in urban areas, and we must do more there as well. I am very pleased that the roll-out in Scotland is going so brilliantly well, thanks to the hundreds of millions of pounds supplied by the Westminster Government.