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MPs have slammed the Government’s failing plan to provide superfast broadband across the nation, with many hard-to-reach areas still cut off.

The Commons public accounts committee said it was doubtful Project Gigabit would meet downgraded targets. 

A report today accuses the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport of making ‘little tangible progress’ beyond that achieved by the private sector.

It said a rise in the proportion of those with access, from 40 per cent to 57 per cent from May to October last year, was largely due to Virgin Media O2 updating its cable network.

The Government committed in 2019 to fund 'gigabit-capable' broadband for hard-to-reach areas, with all covered by 2025 ¿ but this was revised to 85 per cent (stock image)

The Government committed in 2019 to fund 'gigabit-capable' broadband for hard-to-reach areas, with all covered by 2025 ¿ but this was revised to 85 per cent (stock image)

The Government committed in 2019 to fund ‘gigabit-capable’ broadband for hard-to-reach areas, with all covered by 2025 – but this was revised to 85 per cent (stock image)

The committee said the goal of full coverage by 2030 would still not cover around 134,000 homes in the ‘very hardest to reach areas’.

The Government committed in 2019 to fund ‘gigabit-capable’ broadband for the hardest to reach 20 per cent of homes and businesses, with all covered by 2025 – but now revised to 85 per cent.

Superfast broadband delivers speeds of one gigabit per second, over 16 times faster than the UK household average.

The committee said they were concerned the focus was on ‘accelerating coverage through rollout by commercial operators rather than by prioritising those areas it knows are hardest to reach risks some of the areas that need improved connectivity most, being once again left behind’.

A report accused DCMS of making 'little tangible progress' in improving broadband and said a rise in those with access was largely due to Virgin Media O2 updating its cable network

A report accused DCMS of making 'little tangible progress' in improving broadband and said a rise in those with access was largely due to Virgin Media O2 updating its cable network

A report accused DCMS of making ‘little tangible progress’ in improving broadband and said a rise in those with access was largely due to Virgin Media O2 updating its cable network

It said there appeared to be ‘no detailed plan in place’ for reaching communities where it is not commercially viable to do so.

Chairman Dame Meg Hillier MP said: ‘DCMS’ planning and project management here show all the signs of the previous rollout – that the focus will continue to be on the easier to reach areas and there is still no clear plan for the hardest to reach communities.

DCMS couldn’t really explain how broadband has got as far as it has in this critical national strategy, beyond ‘thanks to Virgin Media’, and incredibly it still doesn’t have a real plan for getting the rest of the way to its own downgraded targets.

‘What DCMS does know full well is it can’t rely on the private sector to get fast broadband to the hardest to reach, excluded and rural areas, and despite its repeated promises to do exactly that we are apparently little nearer to closing ‘the great digital divide’ developing across the UK nor addressing the social and economic inequality it brings with it.’

Source: Daily Mail

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