Page last updated at 15:26 GMT, Thursday, 12 November 2009

MPs criticise broadband coverage

Fibre optic cable
Tony Baldry MP called for a faster roll out of fibre optic cables

Two Oxfordshire MPs have criticised the government for not doing enough to extend broadband coverage.

Tory MP for Wantage and shadow culture minister Ed Vaizey told the Commons a telephone and wireless broadband tax of £100 a year would hit small businesses.

Conservative MP for Banbury Tony Baldry said private companies were not investing enough in fibre optic cables.

But business minister Ian Lucas said the government was proposing new policies.

'Minimal investment'

Speaking in the Commons on Thursday, Ed Vaizey said: "The distinguished government advisor Professor Andrew Cabe has said that the wrong sort of regulation will deter private investment.

"Charles Dunston of Talk Talk said the telephone tax will delay it - why is he introducing a telephone tax and why is he also introducing a wireless broadband tax of £100 per year that will hit our small businesses?"

The distinguished government advisor Professor Andrew Cabe has said that the wrong sort of regulation will deter private investment
Ed Vaizey MP

Mr Baldry added: "Why, when other countries are laying fibre optic cables to thousands of homes, have UK operators barely started to think about it?

"BT appears to be making minimal investment protected by a monopoly over the local loop and if we're to get universal 2 megabit broadband connection by 2012, isn't the government going to seriously have to raise its game?"

'Inclusive system'

In response, Mr Lucas said: "A great deal of investment must be made by the private sector to take forward the extension of broadband across the UK but the government must also play its part.

"We are playing our part by making our position very clear indeed, we're going to be supporting the development of broadband so that we have an inclusive broadband system within the United Kingdom."

Earlier this year the government announced it was funding the development of technologies to boost future broadband speeds via fibre optic cables.

Some of the 13 projects being funded aim to make it easier and cheaper to build fibre networks to ensure they can reach as many people as possible.



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