Fast, reliable broadband access is essential for homes, schools and businesses, no matter how rural they are, if we are to ensure that our part of Norfolk does not get left behind.
That’s why one of my central missions as MP for Mid Norfolk has been to lobby hard for substantial broadband improvements in our region – locally through my Digital Divide campaign, Broadband Summits and not-for-profit The Norfolk Way social enterprise, as well as in Westminster through questions in the House and submissions to Ministers.
A lot of great progress has been made, with approximately 95% of Norfolk now with access to superfast broadband (up significantly since 2010). However, I remain committed to keeping the pressure up so that we can get the final 5% covered – and then go further: ensuring we all have the best broadband provision possible.
That’s why I welcomed the Government’s announcement last year that, as part of their Rural Gigabit Connectivity (RGC) programme, they would be focussing on the roughly 30% of rural schools in the UK with poor broadband (and who were not scheduled to receive upgrades from broadband companies).
Now over 100 schools in Norfolk have been upgraded to gigabit broadband (more than any other part of the country) – and I am pleased to hear that the Government intends to upgrade provision for some 6,800 additional public buildings across the UK by the end of March. Great news indeed.
Rest assured, I will continue to do all I can to help Norfolk get the support it needs to ‘Level Up’ its broadband infrastructure so that we can ALL have access to the 21st century network we need to ensure we collectively unlock the county’s full potential.