The need for broadband access in Burntwood and rural areas of the West Midlands were discussed today (Tuesday 17th December) in the Committee hearings of the Communications Bill currently being scrutinised in Parliament. Michael Fabricant backed an amendment to clause 61 of the Bill that would have made broadband accessibility universal by law. However, a Government guillotine on proceedings curtailed the debate and the amendment was not passed.
Michael Fabricant says: "This is a bitter blow for the many parts of Britain which don’t have broadband access. It creates a two class Britain. One with access to e-technology, the other without. Burntwood is larger than Lichfield in population yet companies in the area continue to be held back compared with their counterparts in Lichfield, just a couple of miles or so away, which can benefit from the ‘e-economy’."
Meanwhile, Sir Christopher Bland, Chairman of the BT Group plc, has written to Michael Fabricant saying that Broadband will be provided to the Burntwood exchange if enough people register their desire for broadband with BT. 650 people need to register and so far, according to Sir Christopher, only 174 have done so.
"Sir Christopher has told me that Burntwood constituents can register their interest on www.bt.com/broadband and typing a Burntwood telephone number in the appropriate section. I urge them to do so", says Mr Fabricant. "In the meantime, I shall be asking Sir Christopher how BT decided that it should be 650 people who must register before it triggers BT to install a broadband connection. Sir Christopher has told me that trigger levels vary from 250 to 750 throughout the country. Why did they choose 650 for Buntwood?
"Despite all the claims that Britain leads the world in internet access, we are 20th in the world league for broadband access behind countries like Portugal and Iceland. This is nothing to be proud about. Our amendments to clause 61 would have reversed this downward trend. It’s a shame it was not passed".