Thornbury & Yate MP Steve Webb has welcomed this week’s announcement of European Union approval for a scheme which will bring ‘superfast’ broadband to the towns and villages of South Gloucestershire.  

At present, the only way that most people can access high speed broadband is if they live an area served by cable or if they live in a relatively built-up area where British Telecom find it commercially worthwhile to upgrade their local telephone exchange.  To make sure that far more people get access to improved services the Government has set up a scheme known as Broadband UK (BDUK) which brings together money from central Government, local councils and the private sector.  This scheme had been on hold whilst a decision was made at a European level on whether this subsidy for new broadband amounted to unfair competition.   Local MP Steve Webb and MEP Sir Graham Watson have both lobbied at Westminster and European level for a swift and positive decision, and this week approval was given for the new plans.   This means that South Gloucestershire Council can now move ahead with its partnership with BT to see smaller town and village exchanges upgraded starting next year.

Commenting, Steve Webb said:

“I am delighted that our pressure has led to a successful outcome.   We now have the go-ahead to get moving on getting the telephone exchanges in our smaller towns and villages upgraded to provide superfast broadband.   This will benefit a wide range of people, from those who are trying to run businesses from home, students who make heavy use of the internet and anyone who enjoys downloading films or spend a lot of time online.   This is an exciting breakthrough and I expect we will see the first exchanges upgraded under this programme next year”.