Broadband: Rural Wales

Science, Innovation and Technology – in the House of Commons at on 19 July 2023.

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Photo of Rob Roberts Rob Roberts Independent, Delyn

If she will take steps to improve rural connectivity in (a) Delyn constituency, (b) north Wales and (c) Wales.

Photo of John Whittingdale John Whittingdale The Minister of State, Department for Culture, Media and Sport, Minister of State (Department for Science, Innovation and Technology)

Under Project Gigabit, we are launching procurements across Wales and the rest of the UK to deliver gigabit-capable broadband to rural and remote premises not included in suppliers’ commercial plans. We are planning to launch a regional procurement for north Wales by the end of the year, which will include premises in my hon. Friend’s constituency.

Photo of Rob Roberts Rob Roberts Independent, Delyn

The towns of Flint and Holywell in my constituency have 90% and 83% full-fibre connectivity respectively, but the exchange in Mold has only 10%, and Northop only 2.6%. The Mold exchange in particular serves many of the smaller villages and also the farming community, which is vital to my constituency. What more can the Minister do to improve connectivity in these rural areas so that the vital farming sector does not grind to a halt in places such as Delyn?

Photo of John Whittingdale John Whittingdale The Minister of State, Department for Culture, Media and Sport, Minister of State (Department for Science, Innovation and Technology)

My hon. Friend is right to stress the importance of digital connectivity to rural communities and businesses. We are pressing ahead apace with Project gigabit, and have appointed our hon. Friend Simon Fell as rural connectivity champion. At present, more than 98% of premises in Delyn have access to superfast broadband, while 62% have a gigabit-capable network, and our Project Gigabit procurements are intended to ensure that communities such as Northop and Mold do not miss out on gigabit-capable connection.