The need for reliable broadband connectivity is something which Dr Dan is steadfastly committed to seeing rolled out not only here in Central Suffolk and North Ipswich, but also across the entire county of Suffolk. For this reason, Dr Dan called a Broadband Summit meeting, to review progress to date but more importantly, to consider the challenges and timings for the remaining rollout.
On Friday 14 October, Dr Dan chaired the Broadband Summit, which was very kindly hosted by Suffolk Chamber of Commerce and he was delighted to welcome the Minister with responsibility for Digital Services, the Rt. Hon. Matthew Hancock, who set out his vision for digital services here in Suffolk. The closed meeting brought together senior representatives from BT, Openreach, Suffolk County Council and key organisations representing their members' views, and was also attended by Dr Dan's fellow Suffolk MPs, Peter Aldous, Dr Therese Coffey, and Jo Churchill, all of whom brought to the meeting examples from within their own constituencies.
First and foremost, the meeting was quite rightly an opportunity to celebrate the achievements of the Better Broadband for Suffolk programme and recognise that Suffolk truly is leading the field nationally in the rollout of better broadband provision. Dr Dan was delighted that on the day of the Summit meeting, Suffolk achieved another goal in being first in the country to sign a second contract for further rollout of broadband - welcome news indeed.
But for Dr Dan, the meeting was also an opportunity to reflect on what more needs to be done to bring reliable and efficient broadband connectivity to Central Suffolk and North Ipswich, as well as to the county of Suffolk. The Digital Services Bill is currently going through Parliament and part of this means that the Government has committed to delivering a minimum Universal Service Obligation of 10Mbps to every premise in the UK. For some, this remains a long way off, but Dr Dan is encouraged that this is set to be achieved by 2020 and he will continue to monitor progress very closely indeed.
An interesting point raised at the meeting was the potential for Government to consider a dedicated and improved Universal Service Obligation of 15Mbps for businesses and Dr Dan has committed to work closely with his fellow Parliamentary colleagues to fully look into this possibility. It is absolutely critical for business confidence and the economy that our local businesses have all the tools they need to compete in an ever increasing global market, so digital connectivity should certainly be a priority.
Dr Dan is particularly heartened by the commitment of colleagues at Suffolk County Council, BT and Openreach to look to publish clearer timetables for those currently waiting to benefit from better broadband. This is certainly welcome news for residents and businesses, especially so for those in rural communities who will be able to benefit from accessing online services, or for students looking to research their homework online.
Dr Dan is reassured that those attending the meeting are all as committed as he is to ensuring the successful rollout of better broadband across Suffolk and has already called for a further meeting next year to review progress and celebrate further success stories as more people can access service.
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