MP Scott Mann has continued his campaign in Parliament for better broadband for North Cornwall, urging ministers to facilitate better mobile broadband coverage and stressing the importance of connecting rural communities who still lack a decent standard broadband service.
Speaking in a Westminster Hall debate before MPs and the digital economy minister Matt Hancock, Scott welcomed the fact that 95% of Cornwall had access to superfast broadband, but pointed out that there was still 5% of households and businesses which not only lacked access to superfast, but also lacked a decent broadband service in general.
The debate was called by Conservative MP Matt Warman to raise concerns about the advertising of broadband packages and internet speeds which can be misleading.
"A number of villages - Treven near Launceston, Stoke Climsland, Blisland, Tintagel, St Minver - currently receive an inadequate service. Either there is no service at all, or there is a copper-fibre solution that really does not work for them. There are many households that do not have access to a decent broadband speed, and the fibre-to-the-cabinet but copper-to-the-door solution is not beneficial to anyone. I am pleased that Ofcom is looking at how to check speeds on the doorstep, rather than from the cabinet. That will mean customers have much better access to the speed that they have been offered.
"Everyone now relies on broadband as they go about their day-to-day lives. Small businesses in the countryside and some of our farmers who submit returns online have to have access to that information. It is not an effective use of an architect’s time to wait for six hours to download his plans, and the productivity of some of our rural businesses is affected. Reaching a target of 99% superfast connectivity is therefore very important to rural communities.
"More generally, we need access to mobile connectivity across Devon and Cornwall. I am pleased to see some of the changes to the electronics code in the Digital Economy Bill that will provide better access to sites and masts. Hon. Members present, including my hon. Friends the Members for Taunton Deane (Rebecca Pow) and for Tiverton and Honiton (Neil Parish), will know that there are problems with accessing broadband on trains to the south-west. It is frustrating when trying to work through a journey and be productive and broadband is not available."
Scott also mentioned the broadband not-spot map in his constituency office which plots constituents who have poor internet service or who want superfast broadband.
Matt Hancock, Minister for the Digital Economy, said:
"As in any market for broadband, customers need clear, concise and accurate information to make an informed choice. We are therefore including measures in the Digital Economy Bill to strengthen Ofcom’s powers to provide information to consumers, including data on the accuracy of broadband speed predictions.
"In the digital strategy that we launched last week we said: 'We are working with regulators and industry to ensure that advertising for broadband more accurately reflects the actual speeds consumers can expect to receive, rather than a headline ‘up to’ speed available only to a few, and accurately describes the technology used, using terms like ‘fibre’ only when full fibre solutions are used. There should not be a gap between what is promised by providers and what is experienced by the consumer'".
You can watch Scott speaking in the debate here.