In a (mostly) rural community like our lovely South Northamptonshire, I know how vitally important it is for consumers and businesses to have access to a high speed, reliable and secure broadband connection. Our daily lives now depend on high speed broadband for everything from online banking to running a business or working from home to streaming your new favourite TV show (my last TV addiction was The Crown - according to the press I'm in good company there as even our own Queen enjoys it!), and I know the frustrations people experience when even a basic website won’t load.
The Conservative Party has been absolutely clear that by 2020 we want every home and every business in Britain to have access to high speed broadband, and this is guaranteed through our Universal Service Obligation which will ensure that people have a legal right to request a minimum speed of 10 Mbps.
However, we continue to go further and faster than this and, by the end of this year, 19 out of every 20 premises in the UK will have access to superfast broadband (24 Mbps or more) through our Broadband Delivery UK partnership. This is only the start as we work to provide gigaspeed (1000 Mbps+) connections to as many homes and businesses as quickly as we can. We will also make broadband switching easier and pricing more transparent for customers.
In the 2017 Budget, we committed to £600m investment to increase the deployment of “full fibre”, which will replace old copper telephone lines with faster and more reliable fibre optics. We are introducing a full fibre connection voucher for companies across the country by 2018 and, by 2022, we will have ten million premises connected to full fibre in over a hundred towns and cities with the aim of national coverage in the next ten years.
In South Northamptonshire, I’ve been working with Northamptonshire County Council and their Superfast Northamptonshire project to ensure that residents with broadband issues are being helped. Northamptonshire is well ahead of the national trend with coverage expected to reach 97% by the end of 2017 (exceeding the Government's 95% target and reaching Government's 2020 forecast coverage three years early). Plans secured by the County Council to date, when combined with existing and planned commercial coverage, are expected to extend superfast broadband coverage to 98% of all premises by the end of 2018.
If you want to find out more about how to get superfast broadband in your home or business, please do visit Superfast Northamptonshire’s “Get Connected” section of their website and check out their interactive ‘When and Where’ postcode mapper as well as their rollout schedule.
The Conservatives have similarly ambitious plans for mobile phone coverage, with 95 per cent of the UK being covered by 2022 and, by the same date, all major roads and train lines will have access to full and uninterrupted mobile phone signal, alongside guaranteed WiFi access on all trains. By 2027, we want the majority of the UK population to have access to a 5G mobile phone signal, providing a gigaspeed connection to your smart phone.
I know there’s still some work to be done in South Northamptonshire to ensure that we reach full coverage for broadband and mobile phone signal, and I am committed, if you re-elect me on the 8th June as your MP, to do everything that I can to support Superfast Northants’ rollout plans and to work with Government to close those final gaps in our area.
If you do have specific concerns about your broadband coverage, please get in touch with me via email@example.com so I can take these up with our partners in Northamptonshire County Council, as well as with BT and Gigaclear. I’ve had great successes for some local residents already, and I would be very happy to do what I can on your behalf.