Chancellor Philip Hammond delivered his Budget 2017 speech today, reiterating the Government’s objective to put the UK “at the forefront of the global technology revolution”. The Chancellor announced further details on the £23 billion National Productivity Investment Fund (NPIF) presented in the Autumn Statement and on the new Government 5G Strategy launched today.
The European Commission published last week its annual Digital Economy and Society Index (DESI), ranking EU countries according to their performance in areas such as connectivity, digital skills, use of the internet by citizens, the digitisation of businesses, and digital public services. The UK moved from 6th place to 7th this year behind Denmark, Finland, Sweden, the Netherlands, Luxembourg, and Belgium. Although the UK progressed well in terms of coverage and take-up of superfast broadband connections, other countries have moved faster, encouraging their citizens and businesses to use internet services made available to them.
As BT, Ericsson and King’s College London announced today a collaboration initiative on 5G testing and development, communications infrastructure Arqiva and Samsung Electronics announced a partnership agreement to develop the first field trial of and end-to-end 5G Fixed Wireless Access (FWA) network capable of delivering ultrafast speeds (1GBit/s) and a more reliable connectivity to multiple devices. The trial will demonstrate the potential of 5G FWA as an alternative to Fibre to the Home and Fibre to the Building.
Ofcom published yesterday an update on its activities to facilitate the deployment of 5G networks within the next few years. 5G services, which are designed to enhance the mobile broadband experience, boost the evolution of the Internet of Things (IoT) and provide more reliable communications, are dependent on the relevant network infrastructure and spectrum bands.
Born from the need to address the UK’s productivity gap and provide a plan for the UK post-Brexit, Government issued yesterday its proposed Modern Industrial Strategy outlining its vision to “improve living standards and economic growth by increasing productivity and driving growth”. Government will be consulting on these proposals until 17 April 2017.
Just before Christmas, the National Infrastructure Commission (NIC) published Connected Future, looking at what the UK needs to do to become a ‘world leader in 5G deployment’.
The media reporting focussed on the revelations that the UK’s 4G coverage is worse than that of Albania and Peru (a claim since questioned by Ofcom) and hailed 5G as the opportunity to put things right.
Last week the DCLG (Department of Communities and Local Government) introduced in Parliament a Local Government Finance Bill offering full fibre infrastructure providers a £60million saving. This is part of the Government’s measures announced in the Autumn Statement, to boost UK digital connectivity. The Bill sets out the detail on a new 100% business rates relief on new full-fibre infrastructure for a 5-year period from 1 April 2017. This tax relief is designed to support the roll-out of full fibre to more homes and businesses and to “help get the UK ready for 5G”.
The Chancellor in his Autumn Statement heralded investment of over £1bn aimed at stimulating more fibre rollout and to realise the Government’s ambition ‘for the UK to be a world leader in 5G’ next generation mobile networks. The BSG, techUK and INCA are inviting you to join us on Thursday 12 January (9.30am-1pm at techUK) to hear from officials from the Treasury and DCMS, and to participate in a discussion on the framing and next steps on the initiative.
Government announced yesterday that £440m will be reinvested in deploying superfast broadband connections to 600,000 extra premises. The cash boost is a result of efficiency savings (£150m) and the BDUK clawback mechanism (reinvestment of subsidies when people take up superfast connections covered by the programme – meaning that BT will be releasing £292m).
Ofcom’s Connected Nations shows improving picture of superfast broadband coverage and take-up though 1.4 million premises are still falling behindsamiragazzane
Ofcom published today its annual Connected Nations report, showing progress on the availability and performance of fixed broadband and mobile services received by UK households and businesses. On the basis of data collected in June 2016, Ofcom found that coverage of broadband networks for households and businesses has improved across the UK. However, Ofcom emphasised those premises located in rural areas (including SMEs) are lacking access to “acceptable broadband speeds”.
Ofcom CEO Sharon White outlines her vision for a post-Brexit framework that ensures the right outcome for consumerssamiragazzane
In a speech to the Institute for Government, Sharon White presented Ofcom’s priorities for the communications sector post-Brexit; stressing the need to retain a regulatory framework that works for UK consumers and UK businesses. Leaving the EU will mean “choices about replicating, or replacing” EU laws, as well as opportunities for Ofcom “to preserve the best of the EU Framework”, “improve it” and “avoid making things worse”.
Chancellor Philip Hammond reaffirmed today the need for the UK to level-up its ambition for world class connectivity in an Autumn Statement placing digital communications infrastructure as a priority area of investment, critical to boosting UK productivity. The Chancellor confirmed the Government’s plans to invest over £1billion in the roll-out of full-fibre connections and future 5G communication.
Advertising Standards Authority research confirms need to review standards for advertising speed claimssamiragazzane
The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) published yesterday research into consumers’ understanding of broadband speed claims made in adverts. The study was commissioned following growing concerns that consumers were misled by adverts for broadband services citing headline speeds that customers did not actually receive. The research conducted by consultancy GfK found that connection speeds were still the predominant factor for the majority of consumers when choosing a service and that a majority expected to receive the maximum speed advertised.
The Broadband Stakeholder Group (BSG) hosted its Annual Conference on Monday 31 October 2016 with a focus on what Brexit means for the UK telecoms sector. Our speakers gave their views on where the opportunities and risks could be for the sector pre and post Brexit. We heard from a range of experts about the key role of European national regulatory authorities in shaping EU policies and regulations and how the UK telecoms regulatory system might evolve, in particular in the context of the review of the EU framework for communications.
The Valuation Office Agency (VOA) announced last week a fourfold rise in business rates (taxes on the value of real estates) on some major infrastructure providers’ bills. The revaluation was judged “excessive” by BT, whose Bill increases from £165m to £743m per annum, who added that the increase in rates will likely lead to higher prices for consumers and businesses. Virgin Media echoed BT’s concerns on the likely negative impact of the increase on future investment decision in telecoms infrastructure.