Page last updated at 15:35 GMT, Monday, 29 November 2010

Rural broadband could be sped up by 'piggy-backing'

The government will support plans to allow internet users in rural areas to "piggy-back" on their local school's broadband connection, junior culture minister Ed Vaizey has said.

Mr Vaizey said there were some "technical difficulties" but if these could be overcome, it should be possible for web users to subscribe to their local schools' broadband out-of-hours and for a fee.

Thousands of homes across the country find it difficult to get fast internet access but connections to many schools can reach about nine megabits per second.

At question time on 29 November 2010, Liberal Democrat Duncan Hames said there had been "impressive" progress when it came to improving broadband speeds but schools could offer super-quick internet access to homes in rural communities which are still cut off.

He asked the culture minister: "Will you look into opening up the various groups for learning so that people can pay to piggy-back on broadband access from schools out of hours?"

Mr Vaizey replied: "We will be publishing a broadband strategy document at the beginning of the month and it will address this specific issue. There are some technical difficulties to achieving this but if they can be overcome it should certainly be done."

MPs also put questions to Commons Leader Sir George Young, his deputy David Heath, and representatives from the House of Commons Commission, covering the procedures governing private members' bills and orientation programmes for new MPs.

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