To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, what steps his Department is taking to help ensure the effective delivery of broadband and telecommunications in (a) Stoke-on-Trent and (b) Kidsgrove.
The Government’s contingency planning with industry and considerable investment in superfast broadband has ensured that the UK’s broadband and mobile networks have stood up well to the increase in home working as a result of COVID-19
We are also ambitious to see further improvements in broadband and mobile coverage, including nationwide coverage of gigabit capable broadband, and are introducing a range of measures to deliver this ambition. The Telecommunications Infrastructure (Leasehold Property) Bill will make it easier for operators to deploy broadband in blocks of flats. In addition, in March, we announced that we would be legislating to mandate gigabit connectivity in new build homes, and that we will be investing £5 billion in bringing gigabit broadband to the hardest to reach areas of the UK.
The Government also announced on 9 March that it had agreed a £1 billion deal with the mobile network operators to deliver the Shared Rural Network. This will see operators collectively increase 4G mobile coverage throughout the UK to 95% by the end of 2025, underpinned by legally binding coverage commitments
In Stoke-on-Trent specifically, the Government has also provided £9.2 million to the City of Stoke-on-Trent for a Local Full Fibre Networks (LFFN) Wave 3 project. In partnership with VXFIBER, this project will develop a publicly owned and operated, open access and gigabit-capable, 60 mile long network with citywide coverage by spring 2021.