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Hazel Watson Welcomes Superfast Broadband Report Rural Areas Must Not be Left Offline!

February 13, 2015 11:03 AM
Originally published by Surrey County Council Lib Dems

Superfast Braodband fibre boxLiberal Democrat County Councillor Hazel Watson, who provided evidence to the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Parliamentary Select Committee on the rollout of Superfast Broadband in the villages and rural areas of Surrey, has welcomed the Select Committee's Report on the roll-out of Superfast Broadband.

Cllr Hazel Watson, the Leader of the Liberal Democrat opposition on Surrey County Council said: "The rollout of Superfast Broadband must not leave villages and rural areas offline or with slow connections. The Select Committee Report shows that Members of Parliament on the Committee, having heard the evidence, rightly fear that rural communities are being overlooked in the race to upgrade basic broadband to superfast speeds for most premises by 2017."

The Select Committee Report recognises the evidence provided by Hazel Watson as MPs expressed concern that the current broadband rollout targets are based on the inaccurate assumption that universal basic broadband coverage has largely been achieved.

Hazel Watson continued, "The reality is that many villages and rural communities are still struggling with no access to broadband or slow broadband speeds and that the upgrading of the majority who already have access to basic broadband is creating an even bigger gap between those with and those completely without broadband access."

The majority of broadband available in the UK is currently delivered by fixed-line methods, requiring a physical cable between premises and street cabinets. The most popular delivery method is Fibre to the Cabinet. This presents two main problems. Firstly, the further you are from the cabinet, the slower the broadband your premise received. Secondly, there remain some premises where the infrastructure simply cannot reach.

Hazel Watson added, "To address this, alternative broadband delivery methods must be investigated and subsidised access to satellite broadband for those who are unable to access fixed-line broadband or broadband of basic speeds must be considered."

The Select Committee Report also stated that it had become evident during the course of the inquiry that poor broadband coverage is not only an issue in remote, rural areas. Premises in developed, urban areas can face the same issues if they are located a long distance from their local fibre-enabled street cabinet.

Hazel Watson concluded, "The recognition by the Select Committee that village and rural communities must not be overlooked in the race to upgrade basic broadband to superfast broadband and that poor broadband access can affect urban as well as rural areas is a major step forward in ensuring access to superfast broadband for all. Residents and businesses wherever located need the same access as the rest to online and digital services."

END