Broadband is widely recognised as essential for consumers and businesses and statistics collated by ISPA shows that political interest in broadband has risen significantly. With this in mind, ISPA has been engaging with MPs on broadband rollout, infrastructure and wider Internet policy.
By comparing the number of debates and parliamentary questions in three political periods since the 2010 election, it is clear that MPs and constituents care more than ever about broadband and the Internet. Written questions from MPs on broadband increased 59% and broadband was mentioned 63% more in the House of Commons in the nine months since the election in 2015 compared to the first nine months in 2010. Strikingly, there have been six debates on broadband since May 2015, compared to none in the same period after the 2010 election.
Furthermore, in this Parliament to date, there have been a range of select committee inquiries looking in to broadband as well as issues like the digital economy, cyber security, big data and the Investigatory Powers Bill. New all-party groups have been established looking at the digital economy, broadband and e-crime. This in part can be explained by newer MPs more familiar with technology, a government-backed rollout programme and the increased number of constituent queries into broadband.
As the voice of the UK Internet industry, ISPA has been meeting dozens of MPs from across the UK to raise the level of understanding of different providers and technologies – copper, fibre, fixed wireless, satellite – that deliver connectivity. We have also been connecting MPs with ISPs in their local area to help local efforts, whilst educating them on the UK broadband market and wider Internet policy issues, including cyber security, safety and privacy.
The backdrop to this is the ever increasing take up of superfast broadband with hundreds of providers rolling out national, regional or local networks, and others reselling these services adding expert knowledge and support. Ofcom research shows that the average UK speed is now 29Mbps. With 85% of adults now using the Internet regularly, and the rise of connected devices, it is clear that the Internet is fundamental for all households. However, there are some debates ahead, for example on how to meet the 10Mpbs Universal Service Obligation, the future regulatory framework and removing barriers to make rolling out broadband easier.
Commenting on this heightened political interest, ISPA Chair James Blessing said: “The massive investment in broadband from ISPA members has helped the Internet become an essential part of our daily lives and this is reflected in the level of parliamentary interest. That isn’t to say broadband rollout isn’t without challenges and I am glad ISPA is proactively connecting ISPs with local MPs on how to bring the transformative effects of broadband to communities throughout the UK. We urge any MPs with questions or concerns about broadband to get in touch with ISPA.”
Underlying data, searching Hansard for ‘broadband’:
|Immediately after 2010 election||Mid way through 2010-15 parliament (Nov 2012- July 13)||Immediately after 2015 election|
|Written Parliamentary Questions||112||153||178|
|Westminster Hall debates||0||1||6|
|Mentions in the House of Commons chamber||47||76||93|
* Data gathered by searching Hansard for broadband related entries.