Investing in Britain’s Broadband Future – Government provides further detail on a post-2015 vision

Investing in Britain’s Broadband Future – Government provides further detail on a post-2015 vision

Whilst yesterday’s Spending Round had scant mention of broadband, this morning’s Investing in Britain’s Future publication on Infrastructure from the Treasury shed further light on the Government’s vision for broadband post-2015.

In his speech to parliament, Chief Secretary to the Treasury Danny Alexander said he wanted UK communities to be better connected.  This was reflected in £250m funds for fixed superfast broadband, targeted to cover 95% of the population by 2017 (building on the Government’s current target of 90% by 2015). This £250m comes as part of the £300m that had been previously been allocated for broadband from the TV licence fee in the period 2015-2017 (with the remaining £50m remaining uncommitted).

There was also the commitment to provide access to superfast broadband to 99% of the population by 2018 – whether fixed, 4G or other solutions. This will please those in particular who argue that mobile solutions are key to the future of UK digital infrastructure.

Furthermore, the Treasury has indicated that it will be taking on board the recent Lord Deighton recommendation: that key infrastructure projects should benefit from increased industry expertise. The document states “Broadband Delivery UK will be given greater operational freedom and an enhanced delivery focus, and will be equipped with the commercial skills it needs to deliver a broadband programme that will now extend to at least 2017.” It is unclear yet what the precise implications for BDUK will be, but coupled with the recent appointment of BT CEO Ian Livingston to the role of Investment and Trade Minister, we can reasonably expect further developments in this area.

The publication also mentioned the new announcement from the launch of the Information Economy strategy last week, of “measures to enable businesses to make smart use of digital information and data, including a programme launching later this year to help SMEs with online trading.” As our programme of work on SMEs and Usage continues, we’ll be keeping a keen eye on developments here.

So, overall, a clearer picture on the Government’s vision for broadband infrastructure post-2015 is emerging; these more ambitious targets on both fixed and wider broadband solutions will be welcomed by many.

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