Last week I was delighted to host the long-awaited Devizes broadband summit. This was an opportunity to hear from Government, Wiltshire Council and Openreach about the picture of broadband coverage across the constituency - both what has already been achieved and, more importantly, the plans to improve coverage for those still suffering poor speeds. I was also pleased to hear from local businesses and individuals who are exploring alternative solutions to fibre broadband.
My sincere thanks to all our speakers: Andrew Field, the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport’s UK Gigabit Programme Director; Wiltshire Council Cabinet Member Ian Blair-Pilling; Stephen Harris, Openreach’s Partnership Manager covering Wiltshire; Trevor Neal, a constituent I have met with to discuss his use of 4G to boost his internet speeds; Andrew Skipsey of Giganet; Mark Mutch of F1 IT Ltd; and Ayhan Dawood, of Green Grass Broadband.
I was pleased to explore both local provision and national policy at the event – which was held in person in Devizes and also livestreamed to constituents who were unable to attend. I want to ensure that everyone who is seeking improvements in their connection gets the help they need from the services and companies responsible. While I have no direct power over these organisations I am happy to support constituents seeking their help. Please let me know if you are in conversation with Openreach or any other provider, or if you and your neighbours are seeking a solution (whether fixed or mobile/satellite) for your community, and I will track your case and help where I can.
Going forward I will continue to raise individual constituents’ cases with Openreach and lobby Government to consider all alternatives to fibre to the premises broadband, particularly in rural areas where this has proved almost impossible to implement so far. Conversations need to take place about putting the best infrastructure in place to increase internet coverage in these areas.
Slides from our speakers are included below, as well as a transcript of the chat and questions asked by our online attendees.