APG calls for more broadband investment header image

Published: 22nd Jun 2016

Over 100 people, including some Conservative MPs, have asked the chancellor George Osborne to do more to tackle the divide between urban and rural areas when it comes to broadband provision, according to Western Morning News.

The MPs penned a joint letter that was delivered to 11 Downing Street on November 17th. Signatories include Ian Lidell-Grainger (Bridgwater and West Somerset), Rebecca Pow (Taunton Dean), Peter Heaton Jones (North Devon) and Neil Parish (Tiverton and Honiton).

In the document, which is backed by the All-Parliamentary Group, they said that poor internet access was “undoubtedly a major hindrance in conducting business in the 21st century”.

They added: “The social impact of access to broadband is of equal importance and can be the difference between isolation and access to shopping, entertainment and vital services for some people, for example those with disabilities.”

The move comes ahead of rumoured meetings between Connecting Devon and Somerset (CDS) chair Keri Denton and a number of government officials, which are said to be taking place next week.

Unfortunately, the tendering process for the second phase of CDS’s broadband rollout has recently broken down, meaning that the area is not on track to meet the goal of connecting 95 per cent of homes and businesses by 2017. David Cameron has also made a commitment to getting the remaining homes connected to fast broadband by 2020.

At present, 89 per cent of premises in Cornwall have access to superfast broadband. Graham Young, who is a campaigner with broadband for rural Devon and Somerset (B4RDS), says that the government’s plans to connect the remaining five per cent of properties would be making use of satellite broadband, and people would be able to apply for £200 hardware vouchers to help them set up the technology.