To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, what steps she is taking to improve broadband and mobile phone coverage in rural areas.
We are taking a wide range of initiatives that will improve broadband and mobile phone coverage in rural areas.
We have reformed the Electronic Communications Code to make it easier and cheaper to install digital infrastructure. Our ambition is to extend mobile coverage to 95% of the UK’s landmass by 2022 and this will benefit rural areas as well. Ofcom has identified the 700 MHz band as suitable for coverage obligations and we will work with Ofcom to determine the best options.
95% of UK premises will have access to superfast speeds by the end of 2017 and we expect coverage will be extended beyond that to reach at least a further 2% of premises.
All homes and businesses which are unable to receive a speed of at least 2Mbps can benefit from support from the Better Broadband Scheme. Further information on the Scheme can be found on our website (https://basicbroadbandchecker.culture.gov.uk/guide-to-better-broadband-subsidy-scheme.pdf).
As confirmed in our announcement yesterday, we are pushing ahead with our plans for a Universal Service Obligation so that by 2020 everyone across the UK will have a clear, enforceable right to high speed broadband.
As part of the Local Full Fibre Network programme, a £4.66 million pilot project has begun to deliver fibre connections to public buildings across West Sussex, including Chichester.