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Poor broadband speeds creates a ‘digital divide’ between rural and urban areas of Suffolk

PUBLISHED: 06:00 29 January 2016 | UPDATED: 07:46 29 January 2016

MP Dan Poulter is continuing to fight for better broadband in rural Suffolk

MP Dan Poulter is continuing to fight for better broadband in rural Suffolk

Archant

A Suffolk MP has branded broadband speeds as “unacceptable” in his constituency, which is rated in the bottom 20% of the country for high-speed internet connections.

Dan Poulter said a “digital divide” was being created between urban and rural areas in some places and felt forcing BT to sell off Openreach to increase competition – suggested in a Government report – would be a good idea.

Dr Poulter, MP for Central Suffolk and North Ipswich, said: “One of my major concerns for a long time has been the unreliability and slow speed of broadband services in Suffolk.

“Access to high speed broadband is an essential part of our lives in the 21st Century and affects all aspects of it, from education and farming to wellbeing and health.

“Central Suffolk and North Ipswich falls into the bottom 20% of parliamentary constituencies for the number of connections with speeds slower than 10 megabits per second (required by Ofcom). The situation is also bad for business, with 42% of small and medium-sized enterprises reporting problems with their internet connection, at an estimated £11bn cost to the economy.

“We need to start converting to a fully fibre network so we are not left behind the other nations who are rushing to embrace digital advancement. The ‘Broadbad Report’ makes the case that formal separation of BT from Openreach will bring fresh competition and a concerted ambition to deliver, which will create the broadband service that we all need in Suffolk and I have written to the Minister again to press for this.”

BT chief executive Gavin Patterson said more than 90% of UK premises could access superfast broadband.

He said selling off Openreach would “create huge uncertainty and create a weaker company that ultimately could be vulnerable to takeover”.

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