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Broadband: Rural Areas

Question for Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport

UIN 171593, tabled on 18 March 2021

To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, whether Ofcom's Wholesale Fixed Telecoms Market Review 2021-26 Statement will enable (a) BT and (b) Openreach to charge differential pricing for (i) copper-based services and (ii) fibre-based services in rural areas; and what assessment he has made on the overall effect on rural broadband pricing.

Answered on

23 March 2021

The pricing of broadband is primarily a matter for Ofcom as the UK’s independent regulator. Its regulation of the broadband market has delivered competitive broadband prices for consumers in both rural and urban areas.

On 18 March, Ofcom published its Wholesale Fixed Telecoms Market Review, which sets broadband regulations for the 2021 to 2026 period. In this period, Ofcom is proposing to vary some of its regulations according to the likely level of network competition in an area. However, in terms of pricing, Ofcom is proposing a flat, inflation adjusted, regulated price for Openreach’s entry level superfast broadband service, regardless of the level of competition in an area. To further help the case for investing in gigabit capable broadband across the whole of the market, Openreach will be able to charge more (£1.70 per month extra) for the entry level superfast service if it is delivered over full fibre.

The government’s view is that Ofcom’s proposed regulations will allow those deploying networks to make a fair return on their investment whilst ensuring that customers across the country can continue to access world-class broadband at affordable prices.