Broadband coverage

Local councils boost funding for Gigabit Broadband Voucher Scheme for rural areas


The announcement today builds on the earlier government update, setting out that a further 250,000 English homes and businesses are now eligible for boosted funding from 17 English councils for the Gigabit Broadband Voucher Scheme.

More than £22 million of additional funding has been provided by local councils to top-up the values of the vouchers in their areas. The Scheme targets areas where the cost of building new gigabit broadband infrastructure is likely to be too high for commercial operators to cover alone. Since May 2019, vouchers worth up to £3,500 for small and medium sized businesses and up to £1,500 for residential premises have been available to cover these costs in rural areas across the UK.  (more…)

Ofcom’s Connected Nations Report – Summer 2020

Ofcom has published its interim report which states that full fibre broadband is now available to over 4.2 million UK homes (14%), an increase of 670,000 (2%) since January. This is a result of increased rollout from the expansion of existing broadband networks as well as companies building entirely new fibre networks.

The UK Government recently announced that almost 500,000 premises across the UK have been connected to gigabit-capable broadband since summer 2018 as a result of a £1 billion government funding commitment that runs until the end of 2021, with a further £5 billion earmarked for the hardest-to-reach areas. Government has also launched a new taskforce – GigaTAG – to encourage further take-up of gigabit broadband services. (more…)

Almost 500,000 premises across the UK are now connected to gigabit-capable broadband

Government announced that almost half a million premises are now connected to a gigabit-capable network, which is part of the £1 billion government funding commitment until the end of 2021. A further £5 billion funding will help the hardest-to-reach areas. 45,000 vouchers, worth more than £90 million, were issued to help cover the costs of delivering gigabit speeds directly to people’s homes and businesses. Counting commercial investment, more than 7.5 million premises can now access gigabit-capable broadband, compared to around 1.4 million premises in 2018. (more…)

BDUK vouchers and 5G testbeds updates

BDUK pilots a new consumer-led approach for Rural Gigabit Broadband Voucher Scheme 

BDUK has announced a new website to enable a consumer-led approach to make it clearer to residents and small businesses how they can access the Rural Gigabit Broadband Voucher Scheme. Currently, the Scheme is supplier-led. This means suppliers request the voucher on behalf of their customers. The value of the voucher contributes to the build cost of installing a gigabit-capable connection at the customer’s premises.

Gigabit broadband vouchers are a one-off contribution to homes and small to medium-sized businesses that want to install a faster, more reliable connection over gigabit-capable infrastructure in group projects. Organised by Building Digital UK (BDUK) and funded by DCMS, the programme is tasked with delivering broadband networks to the nation.

The website now enables individuals or communities to register their interest in getting a voucher, makes this visible for suppliers and enables them to express interest in providing a service. Programme Director Justin Leese stated that: “So, whilst remaining supplier agnostic we essentially walk the customers up one side of the hill, the suppliers up the other side and let them make their own introductions at the top!” via LinkedIn. The Broadband Upgrade Fund is a pilot campaign available to rural premises in Cornwall, Carmarthenshire, Ceredigion, Pembrokeshire, Cumbria and Northumberland.  (more…)

Ofcom Connected Nations Update

Ofcom’s Spring 2020 update is an interim report based on coverage and service availability information received from providers since the last Connected Nations report published in December.

On fixed broadband:

  • Full Fibre broadband availability in the UK continues to rapidly improve with over 3.5 million homes (12%) now able to access faster, more reliable full fibre services. This is an increase of over half a million in the four months to January 2020. This is a result of increased rollout from existing broadband networks and new entrants.
  • Ultrafast broadband has increased across the UK by over 700,000 properties to over 16 million homes (55%).
  • Superfast broadband continues to be rolled out across the UK, with an additional 300,000 properties, meaning over 27 million homes (95%) can now access it.
  • Decent broadband can be accessed by the vast majority of UK properties. The number of residential and commercial properties that are not able to receive a decent broadband service from a fixed line stands at 608,000 (2%). These properties may be eligible for the broadband universal service which came into place in March and gives properties unable to get a decent connection the legal right to request one.

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Ofcom’s proposals for stimulating greater investment in fibre broadband

Ofcom has published its first combined five-year review of Wholesale Fixed Telecoms regulation which maps out how it will regulate Openreach between April 2021 and March 2026 for both the residential and businesses connectivity markets (previously the regulator separately assessed the Wholesale Local Access Market Review of residential, and the Business Connectivity Market Review).

Ofcom’s four-point plan aims to support competitive investment in fibre networks and competition in gigabit capable services, ensuring world class broadband services are available to as many people and businesses as possible.

  1. Improving the business case for fibre investment. In more urban areas, Ofcom proposes that the wholesale price that Openreach charges retail providers for its entry-level (40 Mbit/s) superfast broadband service is capped to inflation. This follows a cut Ofcom made to this product in its 2018 review. Ofcom also proposes that Openreach can charge a small premium for regulated products if they are delivered over full fibre. Openreach’s fastest fibre services will remain free from pricing regulation to support the investment competition between network builders.
  2. Protecting customers and driving competition. Ofcom will ensure that people can still access affordable broadband by capping Openreach’s wholesale charges on its slower copper broadband services. Openreach will be restricted from being able to offer discounts that could stifle investment by its rivals.
  3. Taking rural areas into the fast lane. In rural areas where there is no prospect of multiple networks being built, Ofcom will support investment by Openreach which is the only operator with a large-scale rural network, by allowing it to recover investment costs across the wholesale prices of a wider range of services, reducing the risk of its investment. If BT provides a firm commitment to build fibre in these parts of the country, Ofcom will include these costs in its prices upfront. If not, Ofcom will only allow it to recover these costs after it lays new fibre. The UK Government is planning to invest £5bn to reach the most challenging 20% of the UK and is working closely with Ofcom on its plans for this.
  4. Closing the copper network. Ofcom plans to remove regulation on Openreach’s copper products in areas where full fibre is built to support the migration/switching of customers to the new fibre network. Ofcom will be transferring its regulation – including price protections – from copper to new fibre services.

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Ofcom’s proposed work plan for 2020-2021

Ofcom has set out its proposed workplan for the next financial year. The consultation closes on 25th February 2020.

Strategic priorities:

  • Better broadband and mobile – support ongoing investment in faster broadband and better mobile coverage across the country.
  • Fairness for customers – ensure broadband, phone and TV customers, particularly vulnerable people, are treated fairly.
  • Support UK broadcasting – support the sector (including public service broadcasting) in delivering continued benefits to all UK audiences.
  • Online communications – in conjunction with Government, protect consumers from harmful content online and ensure communications services online work for consumers.
  • Enable strong, secure networks – build a centre of excellence for security and resilience, work with industry to protect networks against outages and cyber-attacks, lead on initiatives to close gaps in best practice.

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Ofcom: Connected Nations 2019 Report

Ofcom’s 2019 Connected Nations report, released today, sets out this year’s developments in broadband and mobile services, availability and coverage.

Leading the data is the nearly three million UK homes that can now access full-fibre broadband – 10% of all homes – and 1.5 million more than last year.

Overall superfast broadband coverage is now around 95%, which means that the vast majority of homes can access download speeds of at least 30 Mbit/s. Take-up of superfast packages has increased by 20% in twelve months, but Ofcom suggests millions more could get faster internet by upgrading. (more…)

Ofcom consultation on proposed changes to quality of service regulation on Openreach

Ofcom is seeking comments on its proposed changes to certain regulations that require Openreach to install broadband connections within a set period of time. Openreach has developed a ‘Bulk Grouping provision capability’ in coordination with its wholesale customers that will allow providers to upgrade their standard broadband customers to superfast and ultrafast products in batches. (more…)

DCMS seeks views on transposing the European Electronic Communications Code

DCMS is consulting on its approach to implementing the key articles of the European Electronic Communications Code, which updates the regulatory framework governing the telecoms sector across the EU. The consultation document assumes a post-EU Exit implementation period until at least December 31st2020.

The revised Directive coming out of the EU intends to incentivise investment in very high-capacity broadband networks, support 5G rollout by promoting more efficient spectrum management, and protect and engage consumers. Internet phone and messaging services will be brought for the first time into scope of telecoms regulation.

The Government sets out three options for transposition of articles that potentially make substantive changes to access and investment incentives, radio spectrum, consumer protection and universal service obligations. These options include maintain the status quo, transposing the minimum requirements or adopting an alternative approach to transposition.

Throughout the consultation the Government seeks to ensure that the strategic goals set out in its FTIR remain consistent with regulatory changes from the transposition. The closing date is September 10th.

Ofcom finalizes universal service broadband plans

As of March 2020 homes and businesses will have the right to request a decent broadband service to their property (decent being defined as a connection offering speeds of at least 10Mbit/s download and 1Mbit/s upload). Ofcom has now announced that it will be BT and KCOM who will be designated as the universal service providers for that broadband connection.

Currently there are 620,000 homes and offices struggling to get a decent broadband service who would currently be in scope of this project.

From March 20th, those eligible will be able to start making requests for a connection to either BT (UK excluding Hull) and KCOM (Hull area). The providers, once eligibility is confirmed (which will include determining whether the property is due to be connected under another publicly-funded scheme within 12 months), must establish a connection as quickly as possible and cover the initial cost up to £3,400. Costs above this threshold must be paid for by the customer.

Ultrafast broadband reaches more of the UK

The recent update to Ofcom’s Connected Nations report – which provides information on coverage and service availability for both internet and mobile phones – reveals that ultrafast broadband speeds (defined as download speeds over 300Mbit/s) are now available to properties in just over half the country. Superfast speeds of at least 30Mbit/s have reached 95% of UK premises and full-fibre broadband has risen a percentage point to 7% coverage, or 300,000 additions in the four months since the last report.

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