North Devon’s MP has criticised the government’s “piecemeal” approach to high-speed internet connectivity in her rural constituency.
Joe Ives, local democracy reporter www.radioexe.co.uk
Speaking in the House of Commons on Wednesday [26 January], North Devon’s Conservative MP Selaine Saxby said she wanted faster roll-out of fibre internet than currently planned for North Devon.
Ms Saxby said: “The pandemic has clearly showed how vital connectivity is to all our communities, as those without good broadband have struggled with so much during the pandemic.
“Too many schoolchildren have explained to me the problems of the circle of doom, so I thank [BT] Openreach again for coming to the aid of some of my more rural primary schools and expediting their broadband connection, but I remain concerned that this piecemeal approach to connectivity and the focus on competition in urban conurbations is reducing fibre access altogether in rural Britain.
“If we are truly to level up our rural communities, speeding up our digital roll-out to them is vital.”
Fibre-optic broadband offers much faster internet speeds and a more reliable connection than older home broadband networks that run on old-fashioned copper telephone lines.
The MP, who is also chair of the all-party parliamentary group on broadband and digital communication, added: “In this day and age, fibre broadband is a utility, and there should be universal provision.
“Rural constituencies such as mine should not be left behind to facilitate market competition in our towns and cities.”
Ms Saxby wants a change of approach: “before any other visitors to my lovely constituency find themselves in an all-too-readily-available North Devon notspot.”
She was speaking at the second reading of the Product Security and Telecommunications Bill.
It is aimed at speeding up the deployment and expansion of mobile, full-fibre and superfast capable networks across the UK and will introduce new measures to make ‘smart’ products more secure against cyber attacks.