Broadband speeds

Chancellor puts full fibre at heart of post-Brexit Britain

Addressing the CBI Annual Dinner last night, Chancellor Philip Hammond put full fibre infrastructure at the heart of his vision for a post- Brexit Britain leading the world in innovation. Pledging not only to deliver full fibre connections to 15 million premises by 2025, he also committed “to deliver a nationwide full-fibre to the premises network by 2033”.

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Ofcom updates coverage figures for UK broadband reach

Ofcom has published the first of its spring updates on the previously annual-only Connected Nations Report. These reports track the progress made in increasing the coverage and changing nature of communications infrastructure across the UK. A spring and a summer update will now complement the full Connected Nations report published at the end of the year.

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Government to boost full fibre with £67 million voucher scheme

Government has pledged £67 million towards investing in full fibre broadband connections through the Nationwide Gigabit Broadband Voucher Scheme (GBVS). Vouchers worth up to £3000 for small and medium sized businesses or £500 for residents will be issued to help bring down the costs of getting gigabit connections.

The scheme forms part of the £200 million Local Full Fibre Networks program – of which £95 million was this week awarded to 13 bidders across the UK.

For residents to be able to qualify for a voucher, a local community group – comprising small businesses as well as residents – must be formed. Vouchers may be pooled in this group although the value of business vouchers would have to exceed the residential total value. This pooling approach can relieve some of the costs where the cost of installation is greater than the voucher issued.

The market trial of the scheme which was running across four areas of the UK saw around 1000 vouchers dispensed to small businesses. The extension of the scheme is expected to go live the end of March and run until March 2021 (providing that funding remains).

Whilst the voucher scheme has been generally very well received, it should be noted that in order to deliver maximum benefits, measures should be in place to ensure that residents and SME’s alike are made aware of its existence. It would appear that Government has learned the lessons of the previous vouchers and sought to structure the scheme to incentivise additional investment in full fibre; done right, these vouchers should make a good contribution towards the Government’s goal of having full fibre available to at least 10 million homes and businesses by 2022.

Ofcom passes the USO back to Government

Ofcom today published their technical advice to Government on the design of a broadband Universal Service Obligation. Ofcom were instructed to deliver its “views, evidence-based analysis and…recommendations??? by John Whittingdale, then Secretary of State for DCMS, in March 2016. It has certainly delivered on the first two although in making clear that designing a USO is complex, it only offers a few recommendations. It will now be up to Government to make some of the thornier policy choices.

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The NIC focuses on 5G

The National Infrastructure Commission today reported back to Government on how to ensure that the UK can become a leader in the deployment of 5G and take early advantage of the applications that it may enable.

The core finding of the NIC is that mobile connectivity is essential and that the market, as currently structured, will struggle to meet these two objectives on its own and that the whole of Government must work with industry to deliver on them.

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BSG Comment: Government pushes towards a Fibre and 5G Future

The Government has briefed that it will be unveiling two new programmes in tomorrow’s Autumn Statement to make good on its view that the future is fibre (to the premise variety) and 5G. The BSG welcomes this focus on digital connectivity. All BSG members believe that good quality broadband underpins, drives and improves our society and economy.

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Advertising Standards Authority research confirms need to review standards for advertising speed claims

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.

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Fibre and 5G are the Future

The first lines of Matt Hancock’s speech to Broadband World Forum last week weren’t shy in setting out the general theme. Hancock’s previous speeches had shown that more than most, he ‘gets’ the role that technology can, does and may play in all of our lives. So did his predecessor Ed Vaisey. But what marked this speech out was an unapologetic focus on fibre; as he described it, the future.

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Increasing transparency of businesses broadband speeds – Ofcom’s voluntary Code of Practice for ISPs comes into force

Under the new voluntary Ofcom Code, Internet Service Providers commit to give businesses “clearer, more accurate and transparent information on broadband speeds before they sign up to a contract???. If the promised upload and download speeds fall below the guaranteed levels, businesses will be able to leave their contract with no penalties. The Code was launched earlier this year but comes into force today.

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