Promise of superfast broadband like Waiting for Godot, says MP

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By Western Daily Press | Monday, December 09, 2013, 05:00

A Somerset MP has warned that thousands of rural homes and business will be left struggling with slow broadband connections despite massive investment in the technology.

David Heath, Liberal Democrat MP for Somerton and Frome, said the slow roll-out of fast internet was the "rural equivalent of Waiting for Godot", a reference to the famous Samuel Beckett play where two characters wait in vain for the title character to arrive.

The Government has committed around £1 billion to bring the vast majority of properties up to speed, but there are fears those stranded from upgraded lines will miss out.

At Prime Minister's Questions last Wednesday, Mr Heath said: "The rural equivalent of Waiting for Godot is waiting for high-speed broadband, but we had the really good news in Somerset this week that 82 per cent of premises in my constituency will be connected by the end of 2016.

"The sad fact, however, is that more than 8,000 properties in the so-called last 10 per cent will not be connected.

"Will (the Prime Minister) now commit to deploying the funds set aside to finish the job? We do not want complex bidding systems or match funding, which will not exist; we just want the job done."

In response, Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg, standing in for David Cameron, argued that progress was being made in tackling slow broadbandspeeds in the region.

He said: "We are investing over £33 million already in extending the coverage of superfast broadband in Devon and Somerset, as part of the current rural broadband programme, and roll-out is finally accelerating.

"More than 10,000 premises are expected to be covered by the project by the end of the year and 74,000 by next July.

"On his point about the so-called final 10 per cent, we announced back in June a quarter of a billion pounds of new money to extend superfast broadband coverage further by 2017. I hear what he says, and the plans will be set out in further detail shortly."

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