As your MP, one of my biggest concerns is about the lack of communicative capability in the rural areas of the constituency. This is largely an economic concern, based on the fact that it is small businesses that have suffered at the hands of poor broadband and mobile telephone signals. However, obviously many residents would also benefit enormously from improved signal. As such, my first parliamentary questions put to both the Prime Minister and the Department of Culture, Media and Sport were based on these issues.
The good news is that it is estimated that by 2017 over 95% of the premises in South Suffolk will have access to superfast broadband. Additionally, Suffolk County Council were one of the first councils to commit to 97% coverage by 2019. You can check to see if superfast broadband is already available and if not when it is due to be installed on the Better Broadband Suffolk website: http://www.betterbroadbandsuffolk.com/.
Despite this substantial progress, there is more to be done and I am fully committed to fighting for everyone to have access to superfast broadband and improved mobile telephone signal. I have already spoken in a number of debates in the House of Commons, and signed a petition with fellow members of the All Party Group on Broadband and Digital Communications calling for continued broadband investment. We delivered the petition on the steps of the Chancellor of the Exchequer’s office, at 11 Downing St on Tuesday 17th November. Since becoming the Member of Parliament for South Suffolk, I have also discussed the issues facing the constituency directly with the suppliers.
Finally, the Prime Minister recently announced that access to fast broadband is to be put on similar footing as other basic services, giving everyone a legal right to request a 10 Mbps connection by end of this Parliament. Announcing the change, the PM said: “Access to the internet shouldn’t be a luxury; it should be a right – absolutely fundamental to life in 21st century Britain. That is why I’m announcing a giant leap in my digital mission for Britain. Just as our forebears effectively brought gas, electricity and water to all, we’re going to bring fast broadband to every home and business that wants it”.