For too long rural areas like the Forest of Dean have missed out on fast broadband. This not only affects the ability of residents to access increasingly data-intensive websites, but also affects the ability of businesses to keep pace in the competitive, global 21st century market.
To this end, the Government has set a priority to ensure as many people as possible get good connectivity as quickly as possible. Ensuring a minimum, fast, reliable service for all businesses and households will strengthen communities across the UK and create growth.
Whether by enabling businesses to reach new customers or by helping parents with the weekly shop, investing in better local broadband is creating jobs and making daily life easier.
The Government expects to reach at least 97% superfast coverage within the next couple of years. It has legislated for a new broadband Universal Service Obligation (USO) which puts high speed broadband on a similar footing to essential services like water, electricity and phone lines.
The USO builds on the Digital Economy Act 2017 which gave households and businesses the right to request a connection at a minimum speed, from a designated provider, up to a £3,400 reasonable cost threshold. The USO will initially provide minimum speeds of at least 10Mbps, and this will be kept under review.
The scheme will be completed in two years meaning that by 2020, everyone in the UK will have a legal right to an affordable connection of at least 10 Mbps, no matter where they live or work.
Locally, the Fastershire project is doing great work to deliver high speed broadband to the Forest of Dean and across Gloucestershire. It has already enabled over 78,000 premises to gain access to broadband over 30Mbps. More details on this local scheme, and how it affects you, are available at: http://www.fastershire.com/.
I know that this is an issue that is important to people in the Forest, and that while a lot of us have seen our services improve dramatically in recent years, there is still more to do. If you are having issues, please get in contact with me and I will see what I can do to help.