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Broadband: Rural Areas

Question for Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport

UIN 18625, tabled on 21 February 2020

To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, pursuant to the Answer of 11 February 2020 to Question 11568, on Broadband, what steps his Department is taking to determine where the hardest to reach parts of the country are; how areas will be prioritised; what the timescales for the programme are; and if she will make a statement.

Answered on

2 March 2020

We will pursue an ‘outside in’ strategy to the delivery of gigabit-capable networks, meaning that while network competition serves the commercially feasible areas, the Government will simultaneously support investment in the most difficult to reach areas. The Government intends to invest £5bn in those areas that are likely to be unviable commercially for gigabit-capable network deployment and will require additional funding of some kind.

We are already connecting some of the hardest to reach places in the country through our Superfast broadband programme and £200 million Rural Gigabit Connectivity programme. In addition, we are currently working closely with industry, Local Authorities and Devolved Administrations to design this our new £5 billion programme - which includes determining how areas will be prioritised - to ensure we get the best possible value for money for taxpayers. We intend to start procuring contracts next year.