HC Deb 13 November 2003 vol 413 c403W
Brian Cotter

To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry (1) how many small businesses she estimates do not have broadband access; and if she will make a statement; [137301]

(2) if she will make a statement on her Department's plans to increase broadband access in the small business sector. [137304]

Mr. Timms

Information on the number of small businesses that do not have broadband access is not held by my Department. Research for the DTI shows that 80 per cent. of homes and businesses in the UK are located in areas, that have access to a mass-market broadband solution.

Encouraging the provision of broadband access to the whole of the UK is one of the Government's top priorities. For example, DTIs plans include: the UK Online for Business Programme, which promotes the benefits of broadband and ICTs more generally to SMEs; the DTIs Broadband Aggregation Project, announced in July 2003, which aims to secure value for money for the public sector and ensure this has maximum impact on broadband availability, including for SMEs; a joint DTI and Defra Rural Broadband Team, which was set up in May 2003 to address the issue of the availability of broadband in rural areas, including among SMEs; a £30 million Broadband Fund administered by the Regional Development Agencies and the Devolved Administrations to develop broadband networks and run pilot projects to benefit SMEs, among others.