Dr Phillip Lee: Fast broadband essential to drive economic growthBy Laura Herbert
September 27, 2012
One of the biggest concerns for many of my constituents in Crowthorne, Finchampstead and Sandhurst is access to fast broadband and mobile coverage.
The internet is absolutely essential for many people and of particular concern to small and medium sized businesses (SMEs).
SMEs, which are dependent on the internet, are imperative if we are to successfully drive economic growth in the Bracknell constituency and the national economy.
It is in all of our interests that these ‘tech-savvy’ companies have decent internet as they ensure our region continues to thrive and employ many local people.
The faster their internet, the faster they will be able to compete, which is ultimately good news for us locally.
It is therefore nonsensical and unacceptable that in an area of the Thames Valley, where more than 10 per cent of the world’s famous information technology businesses are based, there’s woeful internet and mobile coverage.
I have always said I am committed to ensuring proper broadband provision in my constituency.
That is why I have been an ardent supporter of the Superfast Broadband Project and worked tirelessly on the issue by leading a parliamentary campaign, lobbying ministers on numerous occasions and meeting BT executives and Bracknell Forest and Wokingham Councils.
I am delighted to report the campaigning on this issue has yielded some excellent results.
Firstly, the telecoms regulator Ofcom has announced auction plans of fourth generation (4G) bandwidth for mobile phone services.
4G mobile and broadband will enable constituents and businesses in the constituency, and particularly in Finchampstead, to access decent coverage for the first time.
Thousands of homes, schools, farms and businesses will no longer be technologically deserted.
Ofcom expects consumers to start getting these improved services in late 2013.
This is also fantastic news for up to six million people nationally who have been deprived for so long.
Secondly, we have seen the start of the successful Superfast Broadband Project.
I am very pleased that Superfast Berkshire is now working together with councils and the Local Enterprise Partnership on an exciting programme designed to bring fast broadband to everybody in the county.
I would like to encourage everyone in the region to support their good work and register your support on www.superfastberkshire.org.uk.
Finally, I have secured a promise from BT’s managing director of next generation access that he will personally ensure individual constituent enquiries are fully investigated and I am very pleased to say that very good progress has been made.
BT executives are working closely with the local council and have now moved all but one local BT cabinet forward with the goal of getting as many people fully on to Superfast Broadband services by November 2012.
Additional works are due to take place shortly to make sure all cabinets are signed-off for superfast broadband connection.
This has been a passionate and exhaustive campaign.
It is encouraging that the Government recognises the high stakes involved when it comes to broadband provision by committing £530 million of funding – results such as 4G and the Short-form Opinion are already forthcoming.
Businesses need every resource available to them if the UK is to start growing. All parties involved in this success are to be commended.