Wyre MP blasts BT over rural broadband lag

Fleetwood MP Eric Ollerenshaw
Fleetwood MP Eric Ollerenshaw
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British Telecom’s “near-monopoly” of Government contracts is leading to villages and areas of a city missing out on super-fast broadband, MPs have heard.

Fleetwood’s Conservative MP Eric Ollerenshaw told the Commons parts of Lancaster and whole villages in his constituency were being neglected by the telecommunications giant as it rolls out the programme to improve connection speeds.

BT has secured the majority of the contracts as the Government aims to deliver access to super-fast broadband connections to 90 per cent of the UK by 2015.

Claims have previously emerged in the Commons that BT had been given a “bung” by the Government, making it almost impossible for other operators to compete to provide broadband in semi-rural areas. The suggestion was denied by the Government.

Speaking in the Commons, Mr Ollerenshaw asked Digital Industries Minister Ed Vaizey: “Given the importance of super-fast broadband both to businesses in rural and urban communities, can I ask what the department is doing in terms of the near-monopoly BT has got in contracts and is leading to BT missing out whole villages and even sections of Lancaster city in my constituency of Lancaster and Fleetwood?”

Mr Vaizey replied: “I’m very happy to meet with you and talk about the specific circumstances in your constituency.

“All I would say is that under our broadband rollout programme we have now passed more than one million homes and we’ve now passed something like 40,000 homes a week, so we are going absolutely flat out on this and achieving great success.”

Mr Ollerenshaw said today: “Superfast broadband is vital to allow rural communities to thrive and businesses there to compete and grow.

“Preesall and the Knott End area are getting it finally and Fleetwood has it already, but some areas are missing out.

“BT said they could not do Dolphinholme and Glasson Dock but soon as a rival, Broadband For the Rural North supplied Dolphinhome BT said they could do it .”

A BT spokesman said: “These are disappointing comments.

“BT is investing huge amounts of its own money to improve fibre coverage in Lancashire whilst other companies chose not to invest.

“Great progress is being made, with coverage set to rise to 97 per cent of the county thanks to BT’s partnership with the county council.”