On 24th July 2018 Lord Fox asked Her Majesty’s Government “how they intend to deliver full-fibre broadband coverage, and what will be the cost to the taxpayer for these improvements.” The Bishop of St Albans, Rt Revd Alan Smith, asked a follow-up question:
The Lord Bishop of St Albans: My Lords, I am grateful for the ambitious targets that Her Majesty’s Government are setting. I am concerned, however, because the commitment to get universal coverage for full fibre does not seem to fit with the statement on page 8 of the review:
“In areas where it may not be cost effective to get fibre all the way to the home, even with additional funding, other technologies … can also deliver gigabit connectivity. Bidders will be encouraged to explore innovative solutions”.
How does that fit with Her Majesty’s Government’s commitment?
Lord Ashton of Hyde: I think, if the right reverend Prelate looks at Hansard, he will not find that I use the word “universal”. In terms of full fibre to the premises, we said that we would have nationwide coverage by 2033. As he suggested, the hardest to reach areas will not be able to get full fibre by 2033. When full fibre is established nationwide, other technologies, such as satellite, will have much more capability, so the hardest to reach places will be able to use alternative technologies. The universal service obligation will still apply and will be uprated in time. We did not say that every premise in the entire United Kingdom will be able to get full fibre by 2033.