Though the coronavirus situation is, naturally, my first priority at the moment, other areas of my work continue as normal - and I'm delighted today to be able to deliver on one of our manifesto promises.
Many of you will know I am determined to ensure North Norfolk has improved broadband and mobile phone coverage. From 20th March 2020, all consituents will have the legal right to request a decent, affordable broadband connection from BT under the new Universal Service Obligation (USO) for broadband. In practice, anyone with a broadband speed currently slower than 10Mbps will be able to contact BT on 0800 783 0223 and request an upgrade. BT will carry out checks to confirm the customer is eligible for an upgraded broadband connection, and this work will be carried out at no cost to the customer.
Whilst 87.5% of North Norfolk premises currently have access to 'super fast' broadband (30Mbps or better), Ofcom estimates that 4.4% of premises cannot currently receive a broadband connection of at least 10Mbps. The Universal Service Obligation will therefore make an enormous difference to those people.
I will be doing more to publicise this new legal right in the weeks to come, once the immediate and pressing concerns of coronavirus have passed - but in the meantime, please do tell your friends and neighbours about this new initiative. I am pleased we have been able to bring about improvements to rural broadband, but I will continue to campaign for greater and better connectivity right across the constituency. This is just a first step, but an important one: a 10Mbps connection will enable a good-quality experience for all common internet applications including multiple TV streams, HDTV, access to digital public services, and online shopping.
And, coincidentally, at a time when many are self-isolating or working from home, this announcement may have come at just the right time.
With very best wishes