Broadband

Trade and Industry written question – answered on 30th March 2004.

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Photo of Mr David Stewart Mr David Stewart Labour, Inverness East, Nairn and Lochaber

To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry if she will make a statement on Government plans to widen access to broadband over the next 12 months.

Photo of Stephen Timms Stephen Timms Minister of State (e-Commerce & Competitiveness)

In November 2003, the DTI called on the Government, public bodies and broadband providers to bring broadband availability to 100 per cent. of communities across the UK by the end of 2005. BT and other stakeholders in the telecommunications industry came forward to support this target.

The Government expect that considerable progress will be achieved within the next 12 months. According to Ofcom, an estimated 85 per cent. of UK homes and businesses are covered by a mass-market broadband solution and this is almost certain to rise to 90 per cent. this year.

The Government welcome the advice of the Broadband Stakeholder Group in helping to develop a strategy for reaching the last 10 per cent. of communities. This will involve continuing action by the public and private sectors working in partnership to complete the access to an extensive and competitive broadband market throughout the UK using a variety of technologies.

Decisions on where and when networks will be deployed will be predominantly for the market. However, the Government will continue to play their part, for example, by aggregating the £l billion demand for public sector connectivity to 2006 through the Broadband Aggregation Programme, helping to ensure that this investment extends broadband availability to local communities.

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