HC Deb 27 June 2002 vol 387 cc990-1W
Mr. Gray

To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry (1) when she expects broadband to be introduced into service to all of England; [64275]

(2) what percentage of geographical broadband coverage she expects to be available by 2005. [64277]

Mr. Timms

Our target is to have the most extensive and competitive broadband market in the G7 by 2005. We have not set a target for percentage coverage of the UK, though broadband via ADSL, Cable and Wireless technologies is already available to around 66 per cent. of the population. Satellite offers the potential for almost total coverage.

Mr. Gray

To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what discussion she has had with the Director General of Fair Trading about the monopoly provision of broadband. [64278]

Mr. Timms

Under the Telecommunications Act 1984, the Director General of Telecommunications has responsibilities to promote the interests of consumers, and to maintain and promote effective competition in relation to telecommunications.

The Government monitors competition in the telecoms sector in close consultation with Oftel, and will keep the situation under review.

The UK has arguably one of the most competitive broadband markets in Europe. Around 40 per cent. of the population has a choice between cable and ADSL technologies, with wireless and satellite services also available, while in the ADSL market there are around 40 resellers of BT's wholesale product. In addition Oftel have announced this week that BT will be required to offer ADSL broadband interconnection services to enable operators to connect to BT's network and therefore provide a much wider range of wholesale and retail broadband services in competition with BT.

Mr. Steen

To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what representations have been made by(a) local authorities, (b) parish councils, (c) town councils and (d) businesses on improving the broadband technology facilities available in the United Kingdom. [62101]

Mr. Timms

[holding answer 18 June 2002]: Ministers and officials continue to meet and correspond with a wide range of businesses and councils. As well as bilateral consultation with businesses and the public sector, the Government have established the Broadband Stakeholder Group, which brings together the key players in the public and private sectors. We continue to meet regularly with the Broadband Stakeholder Group to discuss our broadband strategy. The group first reported in November 2001, and the Government response can be found at www.e-envoy.gov.uk. It has produced its second report this week.

In addition, under the £30 million UK Broadband Fund, the regional development agencies and the devolved Administrations are taking forward projects to promote the benefits of broadband.

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