Anne-Marie Trevelyan, MP for Berwick-upon-Tweed, has welcomed the Prime Minister’s announcement of a ‘Universal Service Obligation’ for broadband, which will set a minimum standard for broadband provision across the country, similar to that already in place for the postal service. The USO, which will be introduced by 2020, will give people the legal right to request an affordable connection to broadband of a minimum specified speed no matter where they live – something the MP has been pushing for since being elected in May.
Anne-Marie said: “I am delighted the Government has listened and will introduce this minimum standard. Rural areas such as ours are often forgotten as technology marches on, and it is so important that the people of Northumberland benefit to the same extent as other parts of the country.”
Anne-Marie has recently written to the Minister, Ed Vaizey, calling for a USO to be introduced, and tabled questions in Parliament to encourage the Government to do so.
In the meantime, Mrs Trevelyan is organising a constituency-wide audit of broadband provision and speed. The MP is working with an independent company contracted by Ofcom, to seek a full picture of the quality of broadband provision throughout her constituency.
She said: “Since becoming the MP, I have been inundated with complaints from local people about broadband provision. Some areas seem to have a good service, but others are struggling to receive a good speed, and I want to get hard data on provision that I can use to get a better deal for the people of Northumberland. Broadband is so important to those of us who live in rural areas, especially people who run businesses. We need good broadband to be able to use it more innovatively – our local GPs being able to use tele-medicine services to be able to provide 24/7 care for patients as they do in reliable broadband areas, setting up new businesses, trading internationally and let’s not forget, being able to use the internet to help with homework!”
Anne-Marie will be launching the audit in the coming months. It involves homeowners downloading the audit software, which runs for one month building up a detailed picture of the strength and speed of broadband received to the household. The data from the audit will also be fed into Ofcom to inform their view on national provision. The company will be able to advice customers on whether their signal can be improved with a simple home fix, and how to do so.