On 25th February 2015, Lord Holmes of Richmond asked Her Majesty’s Government what assessment they have made of broadband speeds, capacity and coverage in rural areas of the United Kingdom and in city technology hubs such as the Old Street roundabout. The Bishop of Carlisle, the Rt Revd James Newcome, asked a supplementary question:
The Lord Bishop of Carlisle: My Lords, many small rural schools, for instance in Cumbria, where I come from, struggle to access a high-quality broadband connection. That results in pupils missing out on educational opportunities through not having a good internet-based information supply. Can the Minister tell us what assessment the Government have made of this situation and how they intend to address it?
Lord Ashton of Hyde: My Lords, the right reverend Prelate makes a very good point. We are obviously concerned that schools have the benefit of superfast broadband, which is important if schools are to take advantage of the opportunities offered by learning technology. However, not every school is the same. Schools have the autonomy to buy a connection that meets their needs. Schools’ connectivity needs will vary depending on the size and type of school. The Government’s £780 million investment programme in broadband infrastructure will increase the broadband options available to schools, including to rural schools.