On Thursday 4th June I took the opportunity to ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport, John Whittingdale MP about how the Government can support the delivery of high-speed broadband especially by companies such as local provider W3Z and improve broadband for those living in rural areas of the constituency.

I know this is an issue which is a problem for many of my constituents living in rural areas and this is not the first time I have raised the issue of high-speed broadband in the House to ensure my constituents are able to access high-speed broadband easily.

You may be aware of W3Z, based in the constituency in Ripley, which has been delivering a quality wireless broadband service throughout Derbyshire since 2003. Their broadband service is really impressive and has done a great deal to bolster broadband coverage in the rural parts of Amber Valley and the wider area.

Broadly speaking, the Government’s rural broadband programme is now focused on delivery, with all contracts now signed by local authorities and the devolved administrations. Local and European funding has added to the government funding of £530 million, to give total public funding of around £1.2 billion. I am aware that an additional £2.19million was allocated to Derbyshire earlier this year to improve access to superfast broadband.

I absolutely agree that high-speed internet is vital to the competitiveness of our economy and if we can continue to support alternative ways of delivering broadband alongside the introduction of fibre-optic broadband we can ensure more homes and businesses receive high-speed broadband to support our economy.

You can read my question to the minister and his response below and you can find out more about the service W3Z provides by clicking here

Nigel Mills MP:

What more can we do to support alternative ways of delivering broadband, such as that offered by W3Z in my constituency, which can provide high-speed broadband to the most rural homes and can get it to them far quicker than fibre broadband will?

Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport, John Whittingdale MP:

My hon. Friend is completely right that although fibre will, we hope, supply superfast broadband to the overwhelming majority of premises in the country there will be some for which it is not practical. That is why we are piloting alternatives through our three pilot projects testing fixed wireless technologies in rural areas in North Yorkshire, North Lincolnshire and Monmouthshire. These are being run by Airwave, Quickline and AB Internet. We will consider the results to assess the best way of extending the programme still further into the most difficult areas.

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