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Internet Service Providers

Oral Answers to Questions — Culture, Media and Sport – in the House of Commons at 9:30 am on 3rd March 2016.

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Photo of Andrew Rosindell Andrew Rosindell Conservative, Romford 9:30 am, 3rd March 2016

What steps his Department is taking to improve competition among internet service providers.

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 a very competitive internet service provider market in the UK. Ofcom has just published its digital communications review. It promises further changes, which we welcome.

Photo of Andrew Rosindell Andrew Rosindell Conservative, Romford

Will the Minister tell the House what discussions he has had with the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills regarding the potential benefits of encouraging alternative investment and competition in the UK’s telecommunications infrastructure?

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 announced a joint review with the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills on business broadband, and the Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills takes a very close interest in that issue. Both Departments are very focused on Ofcom’s recommendations. My message to BT is that I hope it will reach agreement with Ofcom in the very near future.

Photo of Chris Matheson Chris Matheson Labour, City of Chester

In areas where there is insufficient competition, tough regulation is required to ensure that existing providers are providing a fair service. In parts of rural Cheshire, there is no competition and insufficient regulation because Ofcom allows providers to charge a premium to rural customers because they live in rural areas. Where there is insufficient competition, will the Minister speak to Ofcom to provide that tough regulation and a fair deal for rural broadband customers?

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)

Yes. I met the chief executive of Ofcom yesterday, and I told her that we were four square behind the digital communications review, which includes, as I say, tough measures on BT—we want BT to reach agreement on that by the end of the year—and pro-consumer mechanisms such as automatic compensation, which we also strongly support.