Broadband: Disadvantaged

Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport written question – answered on 24th September 2021.

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Photo of Justin Madders Justin Madders Shadow Minister (Health and Social Care)

To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, what assessment he has made of the potential effect of the absence of pricing standards and regulation for fixed wireless operators on digital exclusion.

Photo of Julia Lopez Julia Lopez Parliamentary Secretary (Cabinet Office), Minister of State

Pricing regulation in the telecoms sector is a matter for Ofcom, the independent regulator. However, most providers of fixed wireless access price their services in line with comparable fixed line services and on a national basis.

In 2019 the Government issued Ofcom with a Statement of Strategic Priorities for telecommunications to which it must have regard when exercising its regulatory functions. This includes tackling harmful industry practices and improving the support available to vulnerable consumers.

In order to tackle digital exclusion we have introduced the Broadband Universal Service Obligation to provide a digital safety net, ensuring a minimum level of service to participate in society and the economy, based on information provided by Ofcom. The USO came into effect on 20 March 2020, providing consumers with a legal right to request a decent broadband service, providing download speeds of at least 10 Mbps and upload speeds of 1Mbps. Whilst there is still more to do, the evidence suggests this approach is working as Ofcom’s Online Nations 2021 report showed that people are using online services more than ever with the number of UK homes with internet access increasing to about 94%.

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