Public Accounts Committee

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MPs on the Public Accounts Committee took evidence on rural broadband policy, on 17 July 2013.

On 5 July, the National Audit Office published a report on the rollout of the rural broadband programme, which said that only nine of 44 rural areas would reach targets for high-speed internet by 2015.

The NAO said four areas could also miss a revised 2017 target. In all, the NAO found the rollout of "superfast" broadband to rural areas is about two years behind its original schedule.

It also criticised the project saying it was "late and without the benefit of strong competition to protect public value".

In 2011, then Culture Secretary Jeremy Hunt announced plans for a rural broadband rollout, which would see 90% of premises in every local authority area to have internet speeds above 24Mbps (megabits per second) by May 2015.

Witnesses appearing before the committee included Sean Williams, from British Telecom; Malcolm Corbett, from the Independent Networks Co-operative Association (INCA); Dido Harding, chief executive officer, TalkTalk and Nicholas James, chief executive, UK Broadband; Sir Jonathan Stephens, Permanent Secretary, Department for Culture, Media and Sport, Jon Zeff, senior responsible officer at the Department Culture Media and Sport and Stuart McIntosh, director of Competition, Ofcom.

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