Broadband: South West

(asked on 31st January 2022) - View Source

Question to the Department for Digital, Culture, Media & Sport:

To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, what steps she is taking to help ensure that customers in (a) the South West and (b) North Devon constituency have access to every broadband fibre connection on the wholesale market; and what steps he is taking with industry representatives to help ensure that customers have a choice of provider across the South West.

Answered by
Julia Lopez Portrait
Julia Lopez
Minister of State (Department for Science, Innovation and Technology)
This question was answered on 7th February 2022

The Government is committed to delivering nationwide gigabit connectivity as soon as possible. Today, over 57% of premises in the South West - and 32% of premises in North Devon specifically - have access to a gigabit-capable network. By 2025 the government is targeting a minimum of 85% gigabit-capable coverage.

There is now a thriving market of over 80 providers rolling out gigabit-capable broadband all over the UK using a range of technologies, including full-fibre networks and fixed wireless solutions. This technology-neutral strategy means that not every premises in the South West - or specifically North Devon - will have coverage from every type of connection on the wholesale market when choosing a gigabit-capable service. In addition, State aid and Competition Law prevents the government from intervening directly in functioning markets such as telecoms. Whilst the government’s policy is to increase competition and investment in the telecoms market whilst lowering the barriers to entry, we cannot force providers to offer a service where it is not commercially-viable for them to do so.

In areas where network deployment is not commercially-viable and is supported directly by the government as part of Project Gigabit, contracts include requirements for the successful supplier to offer wholesale access over the subsidised network for up to 15 years after the network is built, and the procurement process differentiates suppliers on the choice of retail offerings they are able to bring. Further, DCMS is supporting various industry initiatives that are developing the wholesale market for smaller alternative network providers. Again, whilst the government can ensure winning bidders for its contracts offer wholesale access, it is a commercial decision for individual service providers themselves as to whether they wish to use these networks.

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