Broadband Speeds: Urban Areas

Digital, Culture, Media and Sport – in the House of Commons at 9:34 am on 26 January 2023.

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Photo of Michael Fabricant Michael Fabricant Conservative, Lichfield 9:34, 26 January 2023

What steps she is taking to increase broadband speeds in urban areas; and if she will make a statement.

Photo of Michelle Donelan Michelle Donelan The Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport

We have made it as attractive as possible to deploy gigabit broadband in the UK by busting barriers and requiring Ofcom to promote competition and investment. There are now more than 80 providers investing nearly £35 billion rolling out gigabit broadband, and coverage has risen to 73% from 6% in early 2019. The vast majority of urban areas will be connected commercially, at no extra cost to the taxpayer, by 2025.

Photo of Michael Fabricant Michael Fabricant Conservative, Lichfield

As we have already heard today, the spread of broadband into rural areas is going ahead at pace, but there are pockets in urban areas—I think particularly of Westminster and the centre of Birmingham —where Openreach is using very old copper twisted-pair technology, which has been around for more than 100 years and cannot develop the speed. It is up to firms such as G.Network, Hyperoptic, Virgin Media and City Broadband to provide that service, but they do not always provide a telephone service. What can my right hon. Friend do to encourage Openreach to upgrade its technology and infrastructure in urban areas?

Photo of Michelle Donelan Michelle Donelan The Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport

London and the west midlands are among the best-connected regions in the country: coverage in London is at 83% and in Birmingham it is even higher at 93%. However, as my hon. Friend points out, there is still more to do. This month we have brought into force new laws that make it easier for telecom companies to get faster broadband into 9 million flats where people are living, and the vast majority of premises in urban areas will be connected by 2025, whether by Openreach or another provider, at no cost to the taxpayer.