On 8 January 2021 the House of Commons Public Accounts Committee (PAC) published a report on Improving Broadband.
The Committee has run an inquiry into the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport’s (DCMS) broadband programmes and policies. The Committee has said it ‘is very concerned the reduced target [for nationwide gigabit broadband connectivity] will be ‘challenging’ and that the hardest to reach premises will be struggling with slow broadband for many years to come’.
The Government diluted its manifesto pledge to deliver nationwide gigabit broadband connectivity by 2025 in November 2020. The Government’s reduced target is for ‘a minimum of 85 per cent’ coverage by 2025.
The report’s conclusions and recommendations include:
- The Department has failed to make meaningful progress to tackle the barriers faced by operators in maximising gigabit connectivity by 2025.
- The Department is failing to prioritise consumers in rural areas.
- The Department should set out how it will establish which properties do not yet have superfast broadband, how reliable the data it will use to identify them is, and when they can expect to receive gigabit capable broadband.
- The Department cannot provide certainty to consumers that they will have a choice of internet provider or be protected from overcharging should they become tied to the sole supplier in an area.
- The Department should set out how it plans to work with Ofcom, suppliers and industry bodies to ensure that all consumers will have a choice of service providers and are protected from overcharging.
A press release from the PAC can be accessed here.