Wealden MP Nus Ghani MP this weekend co-signed a new report from the British Infrastructure Group of MPs (BIG.)
The report says that despite £1.7bn of taxpayers’ cash being pumped into subsidising the construction of UK high-speed broadband, there are still a staggering 5.7 million people across Britain who cannot access the internet at the Ofcom required 10 Megabits per second.
She said in 2016 people rightly expect access to high-speed internet connections. “Fast broadband should be a reality in all our communities. Sadly, this is not yet the case and in Wealden people are dealing with some really poor connections and gaps in services. Wealden falls into the bottom 20% for average download speed and access to superfast connections.”
The new report, ‘BroadBad,’ calls on the regulator Ofcom to take action over the ‘natural monopoly’ too long enjoyed by BT Openreach. The report details connection speeds in every part of the country and argues that, with our modern economy being so reliant on the internet, it is time to stop being held back by BT’s lack of ambition and underinvestment.
Nus Ghani said: “Britain has one of the fastest-growing world economies and should lead in digital innovation. Instead we suffer from having a BT-run monopoly clinging to outdated copper technology with no long-term future plan. Just last week I visited the fantastic High Hurstwood Primary School, where the headteacher told me how she is unable to fill out online Ofsted forms because of inadequate connectivity. Wealden’s farmers are unable to process online payment forms and small businesses are losing clients because they can’t complete orders quickly enough.”
But County’s portfolio holder for the economy, Rupert Simmons believes the situation is improving rapidly. He said: “In May 2013 a £30m BT superfast broadband contract was set up which will be completed by late March. Nus is right in some areas but County has also allocated £6m to plug those black spots such as Waldron. Market forces mean coastal areas have good connection but we are working to improve connectivity for rural businesses. We are not far away from doing well.”
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