‘I understand frustration’, minister tells digital divide campaigners
- Credit: Archant
Norfolk and Suffolk still lag behind the national average for 'superfast' broadband coverage, but the government is committed to doing 'everything we can' to get blanket coverage, campaigners were told today.
Digital minister and West Suffolk MP Matthew Hancock told members of the East Anglian Digital Divide Alliance that he was working towards that goal, and getting more transparency for businesses and householders on how the service they get compares to others as he addressed their conference in Newmarket.
Nationally, the government was on track to get 95% of the population hooked up to 'superfast' speeds of 10 megabites or more by the end of this year, with 91% now over the threshold. However, in Suffolk, 89% currently had access to those speeds, and in Norfolk, 87%. The goal was to reach the final 5% of the population by 2020, it heard, but there were moves to improve their connectivity through a range of means.
The event, organised by Anglia Farmers Ltd, brought together farmers, farming leaders, businesses and politicians to discuss the patchy nature of broadband and mobile phone coverage in the region, and what is being done to enable rural communities to catch up with their urban counterparts.
Clarke Willis, chief executive of Anglia Farmers, and Mid Norfolk MP George Freeman hosted the discussion, which covered a broad range of issues, from getting more mobile phone masts and getting a 'full fibre service to homes, to urging the government to help poor families gain access to broadband.
You may also want to watch:
Mr Hancock acknowledged that the current situation was frustrating for the 10%-plus people in Suffolk and Norfolk without access to higher speed broadband.
'My message to them is I know just how frustrating slow broadband is. We are doing everything we can to bring high speed broadband to the whole of East Anglia and taking the law through parliament to require every household to have high speed broadband in a smilar way to landline phones now,' he said.
- 1 Travellers camped at garden centre car park
- 2 Ex-head charged with sex attacks on boys at Norfolk school
- 3 'It's not even that short' - schoolboy, 14, put in isolation due to haircut
- 4 'An insult to the city': Couple ditch 'hellhole' hotel after 45 minutes
- 5 Tattoo studio owner fined after refusing to close in lockdown
- 6 Long delays due to overturned lorry on A47/A11 Thickthorn roundabout
- 7 James Bond themed windmill owned by 007 star for rent
- 8 Elton John to kick off UK leg of farewell tour at Carrow Road
- 9 Norwich City drop huge hint of global star gig at Carrow Road
- 10 'Someone will get hurt' - Frustration over pothole near Norwich surgery
He added that he was hopeful data which exposed the 'digital divide' among households more clearly would be published soon. A Digital Economy Bill which should get through Parliament by April would require this and it would be a 'real boon' to householders, he said.
He told delegates that the means by which digital connections were achieved was less important than that connectivity was achieved.
'I think of it in terms of connectivity - connectivity needs now and in the future,' he said.