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House of Lords to investigate government's superfast broadband plans

Communications committee calling for written evidence to be submitted

The House of Lords has announced plans to investigate the government's plans to have "the best superfast broadband network in Europe by 2015".

The House of Lords Communications Committee is overseeing the Bandwidth Hungry National inquiry to help identify whether the existing plans covering the roll-out of superfast broadband are really what the UK needs.

The Communications Committee is calling for interested organisations and individuals to provide written evidence as part of the inquiry. Expected changes in the use of digital communications over the next 20 years, whether the government's investment is being effectively applied to develop maximum social and economic benefit and what is being done to prevent a digital backwater in areas where the roll out of superfast broadband isn't commercially attractive are among the areas the inquiry will cover.

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"Superfast broadband is clearly an important development across Britain, not just for economic growth but also because it will impact on how people do things such as view media content, shop and even access healthcare," said Lord Inglewood, Chairman of the Communications Committee.

"We want to look into the Government's proposals to find out if its targets are likely to be met and whether it is being ambitious enough in its plans. Issues such as investment, Britain's market in fibre optic products and whether the advances in broadband provision will require regulatory changes are all things that need to be looked at to ensure the strategy works."

In December, 2010, the government revealed it planned to spend £530m on bringing superfast broadband to every community in the UK by 2015. It wants every UK resident to be able to access 2Mbps broadband speeds, and 90 percent of the country to get super-fast broadband, defined by Ofcom as 24Mbps or above.

The Communications Committee said written evidence for the inquiry must be submitted by Tuesday 13 March 2012. It should be submitted in an editable electronic form, such as a Microsoft Word document, or as plain ASCII text, by email to [email protected] The committee expects to hold public hearings between March and June this year, with its final recommendations being presented before Parliament breaks up for summer.

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