I welcome the solid progress on the Coalition Government’s superfast broadband rollout, as new broadband cabinets start to appear in towns and villages around Somerset.
The importance of superfast broadband is clear. It keeps people connected, and will help to unleash the potential of the rural economy here in Somerset.
The Government is committed to extending superfast broadband to cover 95% of all UK homes and businesses by 2017.
After a slow and ‘bumpy’ start, it’s satisfying to see these little green boxes popping up in villages and towns around the area. The numbers have increased in recent weeks and this will continue. But there is a danger that those who live in the hardest to reach areas won’t be able to access this technology and the benefits it brings. As always with new technology, there is a real risk of some communities being left out and falling behind, which isn’t right or fair. The good news is it’s not necessary either.
As well as asking questions in Parliament and 'collaring' Ministers, I’ve been working away behind the scenes to see what alternatives there are for people in the ‘hardest to reach’ areas, usually smaller hamlets in very rural locations.
One particularly exciting option is satellite broadband! Any building in Britain can gain access to broadband via satellite, so no one ever needs to be left out.
As Chair of the All Party Parliamentary Group on Local Democracy, I have organised a roundtable discussion which will take place in Parliament on the 11th February. Guest speakers including Government Officials, Vodaphone, the Countryside Alliance and a representative from the satellite broadband industry will outline their positions and contribute to the debate. Peter Doyle, representing the ‘Connecting Devon & Somerset Broadband Partnership’ has also been invited.
I will provide further updates for my constituents after the meeting has taken place.