East Ham MP Stephen Timms has waded into the debate about patchy coverage of superfast broadband.
The Government is aiming to give superfast broadband to 90% of the UK by the end of 2015 – but in a debate in the Commons on Tuesday, ministers were warned that serious investment and effort would be needed to hit the target.
Mr Timms said: “It remains astonishing to me that no effort was made to ensure there was at least some diversity of provision in the publicly funded roll-out of super fast broadband. Instead, all of the money has gone to BT .
“The consequence today is BT has ministers over a barrel, ministers have no levers whatever to address the problems which are getting progressively worse, about our disappointing position on super fast broadband.”
Conservative MP Matt Warman said: “12% of our GDP is currently generated through the internet, which puts the UK significantly ahead of other countries. That status will only be maintained if we do everything we can to further narrow the digital divide.”
Close to £800 million is being spent on the broadband roll out but MPs said that in some rural areas it was “still quicker to send a letter than send an email”.
But Communications Minister Ed Vaizey said the 90% target was still viable. He said: “We have said we are going to get to 95% of homes and businesses by the end of 2017 and I am confident we will deliver that as well.
“New technology and competition will also help - Virgin have announced £3 billion of investment they want to compete with BT’s roll out and they are going to get to three to four million homes.”
He added: “We have to deal with the last 5%. By the end of this year we will be setting our plans – it’s no secret we are looking at a universal service obligation.”