Rural Gigabit Connectivity Programme

Digital, Culture, Media and Sport – in the House of Commons on 9th July 2020.

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Photo of Kate Griffiths Kate Griffiths Conservative, Burton

What progress his Department has made on the roll-out of the rural gigabit connectivity programme.

Photo of Matt Warman Matt Warman The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport

The programme to deliver rural gigabit connectivity is making excellent progress, with nearly 500 rural primary schools—200 more than planned—having an arrangement to fund a gigabit-broadband upgrade. We continue to connect other rural hub sites, including health sites, and issue vouchers to rural residents and small and medium-sized enterprises. We will work with devolved Administrations, local authorities and other Government Departments to ensure that as many public sector sites as possible can be included in the programme.

Photo of Kate Griffiths Kate Griffiths Conservative, Burton

The Staffordshire superfast programme team has done a considerable amount of work to bring superfast broadband services to my constituents in Burton and Uttoxeter, having reached more than 96% of east Staffordshire this year. However, I am concerned for those who live rurally, who are struggling to access connections of even 1 megabit per second. The community of Leigh, for example, has been quoted around £50,000 per household for a connection. Will the Minister meet me to discuss how we might get affordable connections to our rural communities?

Photo of Matt Warman Matt Warman The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport

I would of course be delighted to meet my hon. Friend. I pay tribute to the work that she is doing to champion this vital utility in the 21st century. Some of the geography of Leigh is challenging—a number of properties are a long way from exchanges—but that is no excuse, which is why we are exploring all avenues. I look forward to discussing them with my hon. Friend.