Cheltenham MP questions super-fast rollout header image

Published: 7th Nov 2014

An Liberal Democrat MP has questioned the likelihood of the government's super-fast rollout bringing improved broadband to rural areas.

Speaking in parliament earlier this week (November 4th), MP for Cheltenham Martin Horwood suggested the project is currently struggling to meet its targets of providing 90 per cent high-speed coverage in urban areas and a universal minimum service of two Mbps in urban areas, let alone the countryside.

"It seems to me, however, that the real risk is that neither of the targets will be met in Cheltenham, and if they are not met in an urban area such as Cheltenham, they are unlikely to be met nationwide," he stated. 

"Today that matters, because we are talking about something used not only for entertainment or casual purposes, but by people working from home," the MP added.

Mr Horwood said having access to a basic broadband service is no longer considered a luxury and is something that Brits have come to expect. He claimed it is unacceptable that people are moving into new housing developments only to find they are stuck with an internet connection that cannot even reach two Mbps.

The MP said at least one in ten homes have missed out on the super-fast rollout in Cheltenham and as of yet little has been done to fill in this gap.

Minister for culture and the digital economy Ed Vaizey responded to Mr Horwood's concerns by claiming the UK's level of super-fast coverage, which currently stands at 78 per cent, is strong when compared to many other nations.

He also claimed the super-fast rollout is on course to bring high-speed services to 96 per cent of Cheltenham. However, Mr Horwood said he was not familiar with this figure, claiming to have been quoted 88 per cent by BT. 

It has recently been revealed that the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Select Committee will be carrying out an inquiry into the state of rural broadband in the UK.