East Yorkshire MP Sir Greg Knight has had a meeting with Matt Hancock MP, the Minister of State for Digital and Culture at the Department for Culture, Media and Sport, to discuss improving broadband access in East Yorkshire.
Sir Greg and the Minister discussed boosting broadband connection and speeds in East Yorkshire and what more could be done to improve digital access locally.
The Minister told Sir Greg that the Digital Economy Bill currently before Parliament will give 4,251 more households in East Yorkshire a legal right to access broadband by 2020 taking the rate of connection in the area up to 91%.
Sir Greg said: “The Digital Economy Bill is good news for people in rural areas and it has my full backing”.
“Although I welcome the work that is taking place in rolling out faster broadband, there is always more that can be done and I urged the Minister to keep this as his number one priority”.
The British Infrastructure Group of MPs, of which East Yorkshire MP Sir Greg Knight is a member, has just released its first report examining UK broadband.
The report is an analysis of broadband services across the UK and concludes that BT and Openreach should be split and the regulator should toughen up their act so that better broadband is provided to homes and businesses, particularly in rural areas.
Sir Greg said: “In 2016, people in East Yorkshire rightly expect access to high-speed internet connections. Whether at home or work, fast broadband should be a reality in all our communities and it is especially important in rural areas where the population is often geographically isolated”.
“Britain should be leading the world in digital innovation. We have come a long way but we can do even better by breaking up a monopoly company which is clinging to old technology with no apparent long-term plan. We will only achieve a world class service by taking action to open up the sector to competition. We are calling for the separation of BT from Openreach to create fresh competition to deliver the broadband service that people in East Yorkshire rightly expect”.
The British Infrastructure Group of MPs will be pursuing the matter with Government Ministers.
Following a successful Parliamentary campaign involving East Yorkshire MP Greg Knight and others, Mr Knight today welcomed an announcement which will see mobile phone operators increase broadband coverage to an estimated 98% of the UK population.
Traditionally, up to 6 million people in Britain have been excluded from mobile coverage, particularly in rural areas because mobile phone companies were only obliged to cover 95 % of the population 90 % of the time.
Following pressure from Mr Knight and other MPs, from October 2011 onwards the Chancellor of the Exchequer has agreed to commit an extra 150 million pounds to boost mobile phone coverage in rural areas.
Now OFCOM have proposed that 98% or more of the population should receive 4G mobile broadband coverage. This means that across the UK millions who currently do not have a mobile signal will receive one, and that millions more will have their signal upgraded from a 2G ‘voice’ signal to a 4G signal, capable of carrying high speed data.
Mr Knight said, “This new investment will go a long way to bridging the digital divide and will mean that thousands of homes, schools, farms and businesses in East Yorkshire will get access to decent mobile and internet coverage for the first time”.
Mr Knight concluded: “In the 21st century geographical isolation should not mean digital isolation”.
East Yorkshire MP Greg Knight has welcomed the announcement by Ofcom that BT must cut the wholesale price it charges other internet providers in rural areas.
Mr Knight said: ‘In many rural telephone exchanges, BT is the only operator, and Internet Service Providers have to rent equipment from them. This can indirectly add as much as £10 to the typical monthly bill. Allowing for inflation, BT will now have to cut its wholesale prices by 12%. This will significantly reduce the price of broadband in rural areas for small providers.’
Mr Knight added: ‘I am pleased that Ofcom has recognised the unfair monopoly at some rural telephone exchanges. BT has been charging small internet service providers high rates to provide broadband to rural areas. This obviously forces them to pass on the costs to their customers. Ofcom’s announcement today is a step in the right direction.’
‘I will continue my campaign to make sure all residents of East Yorkshire have access to good-value, high-speed broadband. Geographical isolation should not mean digital isolation.’