Skip Navigation

Questions asked about broadband in the House of Commons
Monday 22 April 2013 09:44:30 by Andrew Ferguson

While we cannot expect Members of Parliament to understand the nuances of G.992.1 versus G.992.5 (ADSL versus ADSL2+) we do all hope they ask questions that represent what their constituents want to know answers to, and while last week saw some questions asked about broadband the responses were generally less detailed than what you would be told on our user forums.

The full transcript from session in the House of Commons is available online, and The Register has picked up on the hot potato that is whether the BDUK process will deliver its 90% with access to super fast broadband by 2015 target. Interestingly the response appears to suggest that when the expected General Election takes place in May 2015, that the 90% target will not have been reached, but we will have to wait till the end of 2015 (the optimist will assume December 2015, the pessimist the end of the financial year at the start of April 2016).

If you were not following the progress of the BDUK and the independent commercial roll-out you could be forgiven for thinking that the Government had got super fast coverage to a level of two thirds of properties across the UK, rather than the £2.5 billion spent by BT, and the massive investment by Virgin Media (and predecessors) plus numerous other smaller commercial/community projects. The true scale of what the BDUK has actually delivered to date is revealed when the MP for Thirks and Malton asks a question.

"Miss Anne McIntosh (Thirsk and Malton) (Con): Small businesses in rural areas are desperate to access superfast broadband and most of the not spots are in rural areas of north Yorkshire. What are the Government doing to penetrate the 10% of rural areas that have no prospect of superfast broadband by 2025?

Mr Vaizey: I know that my hon. Friend, as the Chair of the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Committee, does a fantastic job in highlighting the need for access to superfast broadband in rural areas. I was delighted to visit north Yorkshire at the end of last year to open the first cabinet. The uptake of superfast broadband from the cabinet that I opened is 30% ahead of schedule and more than 15,000 homes in north Yorkshire have already been reached, thanks to that programme and the Government’s help."

Extract from Oral Answers to Questions - Culture, Media and Sport

With no published schedule it is impossible to assess whether the 30% figure is good or bad, though while it is easy to be critical, for the 15,000 who are able to order a faster broadband service the news is more positive.

A free idea to start the week, the BDUK website which now lives at would be a lot more informative to the public if it kept a simple tally of the progress of the projects, and in a language that the public can understand, i.e. number of premises that now have access to the super fast services via the project and how many have actually ordered a service.


Posted by tmcr over 4 years ago
Never mind G.992.1 versus G.992.5, the question asked was about small businesses and the answer given was that 15,000 homes had been reached - if an MP can't tell the difference between a house and an industrial unit, what chance do the businessmen have of getting connected ?
Posted by dragon1945 over 4 years ago
I don't want superfast Broadband and I am fed up with businesses whining. BB is my lifeline as I am disabled. I would like a minimum of 5 MB stable connection. No chance. Talktalk won't replace the copper cable which is around 50 years old, any more than BT would before them. I can't even watch YouTube without buffering, and the BBC I-player et alia just won't run. I pay for "up to 8MB" . This morning I am getting 2.11 MB,though 1.71 is more usual. Instead of spending all the cash on high speed, why not first make sure everyone can get 5MB at least?
Posted by andrew (Favicon staff member) over 4 years ago
@drago1945 At the same time as the superfast project is underway, there is a commitement to 2 Mbps to everyone, mentioned in the commons questions.

The solution for many slow areas is the same solution as gives the superfast solution.
Posted by mikejp over 4 years ago
Vaizey's reply (assuming it is complete above) is indicative of current policy in any type of public office - if you don't have an answer/understand the question, either talk about something else or just ignore it. Latter a touch difficult in the House.
Posted by camieabz over 4 years ago
No answer to the question then.

Simple rule. If there's something to tell, politicians will tell it. Otherwise, the odds are there's something to hide (or not tell, which is slightly different).

Posted by mikejp over 4 years ago
Actually, did the lady MEAN 2025/was she mis-quoted/or does she have some 'inside information'?
Posted by csimon over 4 years ago

For people like you & I on slow/unstable BB the only thing that will make it stable is a change of technology ie. the superfast solution.You might not even get a superfas speed. It's all or nothing - you either get a "superfast" service or you stick with a "superslow" service, there is nothing that is inbetween. That's why fibre should have been rolled out to the poor areas *first* to bring them up to a level that everyone else enjoys, rather than giving more speed (unnecessary?) to those who've already got a stable service.
Posted by andrew (Favicon staff member) over 4 years ago
@mikejp Believe she was quoted right, as the final 10% currently have no central super fast plan. There is some ERDF projects of course.

Some councils are going beyond 90%, but Government is not pushing them.

There is £300m for 2015 to 2017 but no announced plans on how to use it.
Posted by andrew (Favicon staff member) over 4 years ago
@mikejp - That was the full reply and the full question. There are numerous other questions including some to Maria Miller in the transcript linked to.
Posted by mikejp over 4 years ago
Where did she get 2025 from? I am not aware of any plans for broadband past 2015/16. 2025 is well into successive parliaments and we know 'a week is a long time in politics' unquote.

The '£300 million' is merely 'earmarked' with no idea of how to spend it that I am aware of (apart from giving it all to BT, of course..............)
Posted by Kushan over 4 years ago
@dragon1945 Is there a reasonable 3G signal in your area? You may actually be faster with a dongle.
Posted by pcoventry76 over 4 years ago
Can someone ask why this country is getting shafted over broadband speeds?

Would be good to know! ;)
Posted by WWWombat over 4 years ago
Great Question - looking nicely beyond the current rollouts. Exactly the sort of thing you need to discuss to sort out future strategy.

And what a dire answer. It ignores *everything* to do with the question, and picks some strange numbers to give out instead.

I assume the 30% means that the take-up for "that cabinet" (I guess Ainderby Steeple) has reached 13% of the PCP's lines instead of the usual 10%.

The woman got similar non-answer's when she was chair of the rural committee that questioned Vaizey last year (video was available).

How do ministers ever get the job?
Posted by WWWombat over 4 years ago

You might not want Superfast Broadband speeds, but you probably want to consider making use of the technology that gets those speeds to you.

That technology bypasses most of the copper that TalkTalk won't replace - and is what makes the SFBB both faster and more reliable.

TalkTalk won't replace the copper *because* SFBB is the chosen way to improve both quality and speeds.
Posted by AlisonMcDougall over 4 years ago
First of all, I work for an independent broadband provider. We provide fixed wireless broadband, but as a private business we can only fund infrastructure installation area by area. We don't get to share any of the money set aside for superfast (BT), despite the fact that BT will never deliver the big promise. This can only be resolved by Government recognising that there is more than one solution, or by community leaders doing their own thing with businesses like mine.
Posted by andrew (Favicon staff member) over 4 years ago
You mean like
You must be logged in to post comments. Click here to login.