Written questions on broadband rollout and geographical coverage

Matt Warman, Minister for Digital Infrastructure, answered questions from Chris Elmore MP (Lab), Martyn Day MP (SNP) and Richard Fuller MP (Con) stating that it was the Government’s ambition to expand 4G geographic coverage from all four operators by 2025, but that details were still under negotiations. In response to Day, Warman emphasised the improvements of coverage in the members constituency and the investment of over £100 million into Scotland’s broadband infrastructure. He also highlighted the £12million funded for Local Full Fibre Networks projects in Scotland, the £200million Rural Gigabit Connectivity programme and the £5billion spending pledge to deliver gigabit-capable broadband in the most difficult to reach areas of the UK. This is a pledge he also sited to Fuller, along with the Gigabit Broadband Voucher Scheme available to those who are not due to receive an upgrade from the rollout programme. In further communications with Day on rural areas, Warman added that that the Government’s Superfast programme has already invested £1.8bn of public money to provide over 96% of UK premises with superfast broadband accessibility.

In further communication on broadband, Day asked the Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, Rebecca Pow, what assessment has been made of the environmental impact of installing UK-wide gigabit infrastructure. Pow restated the Government’s commitment to gigabit capable connectivity but said that suppliers were required to consider ways of mitigating environmental impacts. She also highlighted that planning considerations should contribute to and enhance the local environment whilst devolved administrations are responsible for impact assessments in their areas.

Online Safety

Duty of care regulator will hurt social networks

Google, Facebook and Twitter have warned that the UK’s plans to impose fines on companies who fail to remove harmful content will dent their profits. Facebook stated that this legislation will ‘increase our compliance costs, or otherwise impact our operations or our ability to provide services in certain geographies’.

Written Question on the financing of Ofcom

Responding to Chi Onwurah MP (Lab) Caroline Dinenage, the Minister for Digital and Culture, outlined Ofcom’s budget since 2015 and the Grant-in-Aid it received. These numbers increased from £114.3m to £124.2m and £60.2m to £85.8m respectively. The Minister highlighted that the Grant-in-Aid is provided to cover the costs of managing the UK spectrum. Writing in a separate response, the Minister also reported that most respondents to the Online Harms White Paper consultation agreed that the funding for the regulator should be primarily funded by the industry. The Government is continuing to carry out analysis on funding options, details of which will be released in the future.

Ensuring greater progress on revenge porn prosecutions

During a debate on policing, Geriant Davies MP (Lab) raised the issue of revenge porn, which is now a criminal offence following the members introduction of private Member’s Bill on the topic. He emphasised that the police clearly don’t have the resources or capability to deliver on the law demonstrated by the thousands of cases which are reported but not followed up. Kit Malthouse, the Minister for Crime and Policing, replied that it is a matter which will be discussed through the online harms White Paper, but that it goes to show the lack of capabilities the police has in the fast-evolving area. He also emphasised that it was an area that the platforms, which enable these communications, need to act.

Cyber Security

Written Questions on high risk vendors

Responding to Chi Onwurah MP (Lab) Warman said that the Government had undertaken a comprehensive review of the telecoms supply chain to guarantee the security and resilience of 5G and fibre in the UK. He also highlighted that the decision to both exclude high risk vendors from ‘the core’ and limit their presence in the UK’s networks to 35% was supported by guidance issued by the National Cyber Security Centre. The full texts can be found here and here.

Data Protection

Labour condemns Google data plans

Chi Onwurah MP (Lab) wrote to the Minister of State for Media and Data, John Whittingale, requesting that he stepped in to halt the transfer of Googles UK data from Ireland to the US ‘until the implications for British citizens are clear’. She also requested further clarification over the Government’s position on guaranteeing British data rights and over what consultation was held between Government and Google prior to the announcement.

Written Question on social media data regulation

Lord Taylor wrote to Baroness Barran on whether the Government is planning on regulating social media companies to secure information online. Baroness Barran’s response didn’t reveal any plans for further regulation, but summarised that the Data Protection Act 2018 and the GDPR ensures that organisations who collect personal data, do it lawfully and transparently.


Kevin Bakhurst’s article on online harms and freedoms

Kevin Bakhurst, Ofcom’s content group director, has published an article in The Times in which he acknowledged concerns about Ofcom becoming the online harms regulator. While he noted that these concerns are premature, as Ofcom has not been given the job, he said he understood them and stressed that free speech was central to their current work. Pointing out that they never censor content, only sanction broadcasters who breach rules, he also highlighted that Ofcom is independent from Government and free from corporate or political influence and the same should be said of the online regulator. He said that regulation will need to be flexible and proportionate and not disadvantage small firms. Focusing on their aims if given the role, Bakhurst said that Ofcom would focus on the most serious and widespread harm, especially to children, with next year seeing the regulator take on a specific role to address illegal content and damage to children on some video-sharing services, with the power to fine video platforms up to 5% of their relevant revenue. He added, “tough enforcement would also be necessary against technology giants with billion-dollar turnovers.”


Written question on the effect of Huawei building part of the UK’s 5G network

In reply to Chi Onwurah MP (Lab) Matt Warman stressed that the Government was committed to making the UK a world leader in gigabit capable networks ensuring the UK economy can prosper and remain open to trade and inward investment. He also repeated the UK’s decision prioritised the UK’s national security interests and that the Government had announced one of the toughest regimes for telecoms security in the world.

Written question on increasing regional digital growth

Responding to Chi Onwurah MP (Lab), Matt Warman outlined the Government’s commitment to level-up the country using the provision of superfast coverage to 96% of UK premises as evidence. He also cited the £149bn contribution that the digital sector makes to the UK economy and its growth rate at nearly six times the rest of the UK. Warman highlighted the Government’s competition for new degree conversion courses in data science and AI, launched in October 2019. This actively seeks people from a good regional spread and includes £10m for up to 1,000 scholarships. He wrote that the Government has also begun implementing recommendations from the Cairncross Review by developing a £2m plot innovation fund which seeks to invest in new technology prototypes, start-ups and innovative business models to explore new ways of sustaining regional and local newspapers in the changing landscape. He also restated the Governments £5bn commitment to delivering world-class broadband to the hardest to reach areas of the UK.

ISPA Events

Cyber Security Working Group

The first ISPA Cyber Security Working Group meeting of 2020 is taking place on the afternoon of Wednesday March 18th from 2-5pm at ISPA’s offices, 69 Wilson Street, EC2A 2BB.

The meeting will include an update on the various live cyber security policy initiatives, plan ISPA activity and feature speakers from our partners SonicWall.
A full agenda will be sent round in due course but will include the following:

  • Update on some of the key cyber security policy initiatives with the potential to affect members (e.g.: Telecoms Security Requirements, incentives review, IoT regulation, etc)
  • Discuss and plan the group’s cyber security priorities for the year ahead
  • Hear from a couple of external industry and government speakers
  • SonicWall demonstration of Managed Security Services and how to grow your customer base

This event is for ISPA members only, if you wish to attend, please RSVP to

Distributed Core Network and Network Automation Workshop with DCN Professional Solutions.

The Distributed Core Network and Network Automation Workshop will be taking place on 31st March from 1pm to 5pm (with lunch and refreshments) in ISPA offices, 69 Wilson street, London, EC2A 2BB, this workshop is aimed at CTOs, Network Service Engineers, and Product Managers. During this workshop our partners Salumanus will suggest solutions to obtain a network architecture that provides seamless connectivity. They will take a closer look at each level of Distributed Core Network and show how different network faults are dealt with by Network Automation mechanisms inside and between switches. Their Wavelength Division Multiplexing will also give you an overview on how to use this technology to implement Distributed Core Network as well as provide seamless connectivity with your existing network infrastructure. They will suggest where else in your network you could benefit from WDM advantages.

This workshop is free to attend, please RSVP to to secure your place