Over the last few weeks, I have been lobbying ministers and Ofcom about our eligibility for Government vouchers to deliver superfast and gigabit broadband across West Berkshire, particularly in rural areas.
Much of West Berkshire enjoys above UK-average internet speeds, but not all and I was really concerned to read a few weeks ago that businesses and households in RG20 and RG17 might be excluded from the voucher scheme which will form part of the newly announced £5 billion ‘Project Gigabit’ intended to target blackspots.
I have recently written to the Chief Executive of OFCOM about this and last week asked a question in the House about this to the Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden.
As of today I can confirm that the decision has been made to include all postcodes in RG20 and the majority of RG17 for the new voucher scheme. In addition, properties in the far east of my constituency which were not included in previous commercial rollouts will also be eligible.
Exact details of the scheme will be released at the start of April when the scheme is expected to go live. When these details are released (including timeframe), I want to work with affected households and businesses to form ‘Community Fibre Partnerships’ where residents combine vouchers to cover the costs of installation.
I know that there are some areas who might not benefit from this Scheme but want to reassure residents that I will continue to lobby on their behalf.