MPs will debate the Roll-out of broadband to rural communities in Scotland, on Wednesday 22 November 2017, at 9.30am, in Westminster Hall. John Lamont MP will open the debate.Jump to full report >>
The UK Government defines superfast broadband as download speeds greater than 24Mbps (Megabits per second). The Scottish Government and Ofcom, the communications regulator in the UK, defines it as at least 30Mbps.
Superfast broadband has been rolled out to much of the country on commercial terms by service providers such as BT and Virgin Media. The UK Government’s policy is to provide funding to support the roll-out of superfast broadband to those areas of the UK where commercial roll-out is not economically viable. This is mostly, but not entirely, in rural areas.
The Library briefing paper, Superfast Broadband Coverage in the UK, provides further policy background up to 9 March 2017.
The power to legislate for telecommunications (including wireless telegraphy and internet services) is reserved to the UK Government.
However, the practical delivery of broadband roll-out is led by local bodies in England and the devolved Administrations in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. This means that the local bodies in England and the devolved Administrations can develop their own broadband strategies to guide the infrastructure build in their region, and set roll-out targets that are more ambitious than those set at the UK Government level.
Superfast broadband is being delivered across Scotland under two programmes:
To date, options for the ‘final 5%’ of properties in Scotland remaining outside the Digital Scotland Superfast Broadband programme has been addressed largely through the community-led projects coordinated by the Community Broadband Scotland (CBS) initiative.
The UK Government’s target is for 95% of UK premises to have access to superfast broadband connections by the end of 2017. The Government has stated that it is on track to meet this target. Further, the Government expects that this coverage should reach 97% by 2020, through a combination of public and commercial investment.
For the remaining properties not met by the BDUK superfast broadband programme, the UK Government intends to introduce a Universal Service Obligation (USO) for broadband, which aims to provide a legal right to a minimum broadband connection of at least 10 Mbps download speed, up to a reasonable cost threshold.
More information on the USO is provided in Section 2.4 of this pack and in the Library briefing on a Universal Service Obligation (USO) for broadband (17 November 2017).
Broadly speaking, broadband connectivity and speeds tend to be better in urban areas than in rural areas. The statistics provided in Section 3 of this pack set out the difference in superfast broadband coverage between urban and rural areas in the UK, based on data published by Ofcom in June 2016.
Commons Debate packs CDP-2017-0232
Authors: Georgina Hutton; Emma Downing; Alex Adcock; Carl Baker