In the constituency, many residents and businesses have recently contacted me about the desperate need for better broadband. I know how frustrating poor and unreliable broadband connections are, so I agree. The UK has the highest superfast broadband coverage amongst the top five European economies, but I know more needs to be done to ensure that everyone in Amber Valley can have access to the broadband they require.
Earlier this year, in January, I co-signed the ‘BroadBad’ report calling on the regulator Ofcom to take radical action over the ‘natural monopoly’ too long enjoyed by BT Openreach. I’m pleased that Ministers are supporting this and pushing for a more independent service so that the UK leads the world with its digital infrastructure.
As a result, Ofcom are now looking into changes to Openreach, and the second reading of the Digital Economy Bill has just passed through the House. This will tackle some of the issues with poor broadband by adding a universal service requirement (giving you the legal right to request a 10Mbps broadband connection), allowing you to access house-by-house internet speed checks, making switching easier and automatically compensating you if things go wrong with your broadband. I will continue to campaign for the greater competition and ambition needed to create the broadband service that constituents and businesses so rightly demand and need.
In the constituency, I recently met with Digital Derbyshire to discuss their broadband roll out.
This Government and local authorities are investing over £1.7 billion to help bring superfast broadband to 95% of the UK by 2017. As a result, I’m pleased that the 49 new cabinets promised under the first phase of the Digital Derbyshire programme have now been delivered, which means more than 10,000 extra premises now have fibre broadband available to them and includes crucial new cabinets in Ripley and Horsley.
In addition, plans to extend fibre broadband to the industrial parks and centres in Amber Valley are also currently being progressed by BT and commercial broadband providers.
Many constituents have recently raised concerns about the installation of broadband on new housing developments. As a result of these concerns, I’m delighted that the Government has now agreed a new deal with BT for fibre based broadband to be offered to all new developments either for free or as part of a co-funded initiative.
Nevertheless, I know that some people in Amber Valley still can’t access a broadband service with a speed of at least 2 Mbps but, if this is the case, you may be able to apply for £350 of support for satellite or wireless broadband under the Better Broadband Subsidy Scheme. You can find out more about the scheme here.