Somerset MP complains of substandard broadband connections in south-west header image

Published: 4th Mar 2015

The need for improved broadband internet services in the south-west of England has been raised during a parliamentary debate by a Somerset MP.

Tessa Munt, Liberal Democrat MP for Wells in Somerset, said during a recent House of Commons discussion that current connectivity standards are no longer fit for purpose due to the growing reliance on high-speed connections among rural businesses and residents alike.

According to the latest data from Ofcom, only 44 per cent of Somerset has access to the fastest connection speeds, with Devon offering similarly spotty coverage of 45 per cent. Cornwall is up to 72 per cent thanks to the recent allocation of extra EU cash, but the area still lags far behind territories such as Plymouth (94 per cent) and London (almost 100 per cent).

MPs on the environment, food and rural affairs select committee have already expressed concerns that the target of providing high-speed connections to 95 per cent of the country by 2017 will be missed, while ministers have also voiced unhappiness with the excessive control given to BT, which has scooped all 44 regional contracts under the Broadband Delivery UK programme.

Ms Munt told culture, media and sport secretary Sajid Javid that Somerset's rate of access to super-fast broadband "hardly meets the needs of rural businesses and residents".

She said: "Connecting Devon and Somerset allows bids from other suppliers in the Dartmoor and Exmoor national parks, but I understand that because of the reason of screening of information only BT, as a monopoly supplier, will be able to bid for the second phase.

"I have written to the Competition and Markets Authority; will the Secretary of State do the same and investigate exactly what has happened?"

As the internet grows in importance to business users and regular consumers alike, the need will grow for alternative connectivity methods such as satellite broadband, which can be useful in connecting remote regions that are cut off from existing broadband networks.