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Parliament to probe Digital Britain plan

A select committee is to investigate Lord Carter's Digital Britain recommendations, which include a 2Mbps universal minimum broadband speed and a 50p-per-month levy on fixed lines
Written by David Meyer, Contributor

A parliamentary select committee is to check whether the recommendations proposed in the Digital Britain report are realistic, particularly those regarding broadband speed.

The Business and Enterprise Committee inquiry was announced on Monday. Many of the government's recommendations in Lord Carter's Digital Britain report, published earlier this month, require new legislation if they are to be put into practice.

According to a parliamentary spokesperson, the select committee's inquiry is intended to "inform the House to better amend legislation" when that legislation is put before MPs after the summer recess.

The cross-party committee will examine several questions. It will ask whether the 2Mbps universal baseline broadband speed is ambitious enough, and will also investigate whether ISPs are providing the speeds they promise to consumers.

The 50p-per-month levy on each fixed copper line, as proposed by Carter, will also come under scrutiny. This charge, if allowed by the new legislation, will feed into a fund that will be used to roll out high-speed next-generation broadband access in areas of the UK where commercial companies do not see a sufficient business case for investment.

The committee will also attempt to find out whether the government's plans for next-generation broadband access will work, and whether current regulation "strikes the right balance between ensuring fair competition and encouraging investment in next-generation networks".

As part of the investigation, the committee is inviting the public to send in comments on UK broadband provision, with submission guidelines on a Berr website. Responses to the inquiry should be submitted to the select committee by 25 September.

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