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Government to host summit on broadband and mobile 'not-spots'

Monday, February 1st 2016 by Ellen Branagh

The government will host a long-awaited ‘not-spot’ summit this week, it has been revealed.

Matt Warman, MP for Boston and Skegness, said the summit on Wednesday will see digital minister Ed Vaizey host representatives from both large and small fixed and mobile broadband providers, as well as groups like the National Farmers’ Union and the Countryside Alliance.

The summit, which will look at ways to address variations in fixed and mobile broadband coverage across the country, follows a parliamentary debate led by Mr Warman in October.

In the debate, MPs joined Mr Warman in calling on the government to look at ways to help those in areas without adequate broadband or mobile coverage.

The long-awaited summit will also hear from Broadband Delivery UK, as well as BT and EE, Mr Warman said.

The MP, who is also a former technology journalist, said: “I am pleased that the government is listening to concerns from MPs and other groups about the variations in broadband coverage in both urban and rural areas, and is hosting the ‘not-spot’ summit to look at ways to improve coverage for families and businesses across the country.

“I have no doubt that the range of internet providers and interested groups will provide for an interesting and productive discussion on what we can all do to ensure better coverage going forward.”

During October’s debate, Mr Warman warned that without serious investment to connect the “final 5%”, the government was risking isolating entire communities and creating a digital divide between those who are connected and those who aren’t.

Digital minister Ed Vaizey defended the government's work in rolling out superfast broadband, saying it would reach 95% of homes and businesses by the end of 2017 as well as addressing how to connect the final 5%.

In November, Prime Minister David Cameron announced plans to introduce a new Universal Service Obligation (USO) giving everyone the right to a broadband connection of 10Mbps.

He said: “Access to the internet shouldn’t be a luxury; it should be a right – absolutely fundamental to life in 21st century Britain.

“Just as our forebears effectively brought gas, electricity and water to all, we’re going to bring fast broadband to every home and business that wants it.”

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