I have received the letter below from the Minister regarding the roll out of superfast broadband in the Wokingham constituency. I would be grateful if you would get in touch with me if you are experiencing difficulty in accessing superfast broadband for your home or business.
Superfast broadband Progress
I am writing to provide a further update on superfast broadband delivery in your constituency. By the end of March 2016, the government’s Superfast Broadband Programme had provided coverage to nearly 4 million homes and businesses, in collaboration with local authorities and the devolved administrations.
Your constituency is located within the Berkshire project.
The project has been allocated over 5.1m of government funding for Phase 1 and/or 2 of the Superfast Broadband Programme.
I am also pleased to say that the phase 1 of the Berkshire project has now completed delivery and funding efficiency gains of £868k have been agreed with BT. This money is now available for further investment in additional superfast broadband coverage. The local project team is now planning on how to take this forward.
You can check the availability of superfast broadband services at http://gosuperfastchecker.culture.gov.uk/ from where you will be directed to available superfast broadband providers and for those who cannot currently get superfast broadband, some providers provide a demand registration service where you can register your interest.
If you have any concerns about discrepancies with local coverage data, you may wish to follow up with your local project team. Further information is available via the project website at http://www.superfastberkshire.org.uk/
On 26 May 2016 the European Commission published their decision to approve the new UK national Broadband Scheme (NBS). The Decision recognises the NBS scheme as being compliant with EU competition law, and public bodies in the UK will not need to notify the Commission each time they wish to run a new broadband procurement. Instead, they just need to demonstrate compliance with the NBS to BDUK. The NBS scheme will run until the end of 2020.
Universal Service Commitment
May I also remind you that we have made available a subsidised satellite broadband connection to all eligible premises which are unable to access a basic broadband of at least 2Mbps. This enables all premises to gain access to a functional level of Broadband. Any homes or businesses which would like to take advantage of this offer can get further information and make an application via the local project team at: http://basicbroadbandchecker.culture.gov.uk.
Universal Service Obligation and Digital Economy Bill
Furthermore in the Queen’s speech we announced that universal broadband would be in the Digital Economy Bill, which will help us to provide a safety for those who are unable to access superfast broadband. We recently consulted on our approach and on 17 May we published the government’s response (http://bit.ly/USObroadband). This measure will ensure that no one is left behind and risks economic and social exclusion in the rapidly emerging digital world.
In addition, we want businesses and consumers to be able to identify with ease the factors that matter most to them when purchasing communications services. The Bill will provide Ofcom with powers to ensure providers release data such as complaints and broadband speed so people can make informed choices. We will also legislate for Ofcom to make it easier for consumers to switch providers, especially in the complex area where consumers buy bundles services including fixed and mobile services. Ofcom’s powers will allow it to require communications companies to co-ordinate switches so they are quicker and easier for consumers.
Bill provisions will ensure automatic compensation for consumers and businesses when things go wrong. Customers will no longer have to seek redress themselves, but will instead receive refunds automatically for any loss or reduction of service. These powers will support the work Ofcom is undertaking as part the Strategic Review of Digital Communications and will be subject to further consultation by Ofcom. As communication services are increasingly essential we believe we should level up the compensation arrangements that are already available for disruption of utilities.
Finally, if you have any issues that you would like to discuss, please contact my office and my officials will organise a convenient time for us to meet.
MINISTER FOR CULTURE AND THE DIGITAL ECONOMY