Businesses and households will benefit from more investment in fibre infrastructure with Government plans introduced in the House of Commons today.
This afternoon MPs debated the Second Reading of the Telecommunications Infrastructure (Relief from Non-Domestic Rates) Bill that seeks to cut costs for new investment in fibre infrastructure and bring superfast broadband to areas with slow and unreliable connections.
The Bill’s arrival in the House of Commons was of particular note to one Kit Malthouse MP. The Member for North West Hampshire has been especially vocal about the importance of fast, reliable connectivity to rural areas. Kit argues that the risk of being left behind endangers the future small business and the countryside’s prosperity. Over 12% GDP is now generated through the internet, a figure significantly ahead of other countries.
He was one of the first MPs to call for the end of business rates charging on new fibre investment, doing so on 13th September last year and was key to preventing backsliding from the Government on its commitment to rural broadband. He also pressed for clarity on the minimum speeds promised.
On Friday, the Minister of State for Digital, Matt Hancock wrote in The Times of the achievements that the Government had made, including the passage of the Digital Economy Act containing the new broadband Universal Service Obligation by 2020. This follows concerted pressure from energetic Conservative backbenchers to establish the idea that broadband is an essential utility as common sense and a necessary investment for business success.
Speaking before the debate, Kit said: “Fast, reliable broadband is non-negotiable if a global, entrepreneurial Britain is to become a reality. With the Digital Economy Bill, the £400 million Digital Infrastructure Investment Fund and today’s Rates Relief Bill the Government is making a clear statement of intent that the UK means business in the digital age.”