MP pays tribute to local newspapers (From Worcester News)

West Worcestershire MP pays tribute to local newspapers

12:38pm Wednesday 15th May 2013 in News1

The latest column from West Worcestershire MP, Harriett Baldwin2

It is local newspaper week and I want to pay tribute to the wonderful reporters we are lucky to have in Worcestershire.

Local papers are essential to my work, and whether I am in Westminster or Worcestershire, the first thing I do each morning over breakfast is open the digital edition of the Worcester News3 on my tablet.

Technology has completely changed the newspaper business and most other industries. The UK is a leading digital economy with two-thirds of premises now with access to superfast broadband.

The UK internet economy is worth 82 billion a year. In order to make the most of the opportunities technology brings, we need Worcestershire to be connected to the rest of the world with fast internet connections.

There s strong business and consumer demand willing to pay for a fast broadband connections and commercial firms are responding to this.

Fibre-optic cable is considered the best technology and it is being installed in many of our Worcestershire towns.

In my constituency, Malvern and Pershore are getting commercial coverage of fibre optic cable.

But because it costs money to dig ditches and lay cable, commercial providers are unlikely to cover the rural parts of the county, despite there being strong demand.

So the government and Worcestershire County Council4 have allocated millions in taxpayer cash to cover 90% of the County by 2015.

The bid is out to tender and I expect a contract to be awarded in July.

But many of my rural parishes will be in the final 10% and won t be covered by this contract. They may need to use technologies like satellite and wireless rather than fibre. But even there, progress is being made.

The Rural Community Broadband Fund is available for these parishes still open for bids and several parts of Worcestershire have already been successful in bidding Welland, Abberley, Defford and Besford have all been successful in bidding for this so far.

Little Witley and the Teme Valley have gone live this month with Airband Wireless.

Martley has a WiFi mesh and Overbury has dug its own ditch under the A46 and brought fibre to each of the premises in the village.

Last Friday, I organised and Wychavon hosted a conference for parishes in the final 10% which showcased the technologies available today.

Many thanks to Airband, Avonline and Cotswold Satellite, Martley Mesh and Overbury Fibre Network for attending, together with my colleague Rory Stewart MP.

I think those attending were inspired by what is possible today and left with confidence that Worcestershire can be at the forefront of this global technological race.

References

  1. ^ News (www.worcesternews.co.uk)
  2. ^ Harriett Baldwin (www.worcesternews.co.uk)
  3. ^ Worcester News (www.worcesternews.co.uk)
  4. ^ Worcestershire County Council (www.worcesternews.co.uk)

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