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Broadband

Northern Ireland written question – answered on 24th November 2011.

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Photo of Vernon Coaker Vernon Coaker Shadow Secretary of State for Northern Ireland

To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland

(1) what discussions he has had with the Secretary of State for Culture, Olympics, Media and Sport about 3G mobile broadband coverage in Northern Ireland;

(2) what discussions he has had with mobile network operators about 3G mobile broadband coverage in Northern Ireland;

(3) what discussions he has had with the Secretary of State for Culture, Olympics, Media and Sport about the amount of money that will be allocated to Northern Ireland from the £150 million of funding to improve mobile coverage.

Photo of Hugo Swire Hugo Swire The Minister of State, Northern Ireland Office

The Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, my right hon. Friend Mr Paterson, and I have regular meetings with ministerial colleagues on issues affecting Northern Ireland, including mobile coverage. I have met with the Minister for Culture, Communications and Creative Industries, my hon. Friend Mr Vaizey, to discuss this matter on several occasions and I am a member of the cross-Government Ministerial Group on Broadband which ensures that we take a joined-up approach to the delivery of the coalition Government's broadband policy and projects. I have also discussed this matter with the Department for Enterprise and Investment Minister Arlene Foster.

Contacts with commercial telecoms providers are taken forward by DCMS or the Northern Ireland Executive as appropriate as they have the lead in such matters.

The allocation of the £150 million announced by the Chancellor of the Exchequer, my right hon. Friend Mr Osborne, to increase mobile coverage will be discussed at future meetings of the cross-Government Ministerial Group on Broadband. DCMS have yet to determine the methodology which will be used to distribute these funds and are still in very preliminary discussions with Ofcom.

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