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”.
Government today laid legislation setting the design of the broadband Universal Service Obligation (USO). This follows Government confirmation in December last year that having access to high speed broadband would be a legal right.
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.
The DCMS call for evidence for the Future Telecoms Infrastructure Review signalled the opening of the conversation around what – if any – policy interventions could benefit long-term investment in the infrastructure required for the next generation of digital technologies.
The Culture, Media and Sport Select Committee has published its report into the Potential impact of Brexit on the creative industries, tourism and the digital single market. The report was produced in response to an inquiry launched in the Autumn of 2016 to examine priority issues for Government in its negotiations as it exits the EU. Particular attention was given to workforce, funding and the future regulatory environment issues. (more…)
The Government has published the Terms of Reference for a review into future investment into the UK telecoms sector, led by DCMS. The cross-government Future Telecoms Infrastructure Review will explore what makes investment in full fibre and 5G networks attractive, and what actions Government may need to take in order to deliver on its vision.
I’ve written before about why the Mobile Infrastructure Project (MIP) failed to live up to its expectations. In summary, building infrastructure is hard in any case and it’s even harder when neither the problem you want to solve nor solution are agreed upon by the parties involved. Last week though the Government published the Mobile Infrastructure Project: Impact and Benefits Report so it’s only fair to pay attention to the benefits that it delivered too.
This weekend saw two big developments in the bid to create a Broadband Universal Service Obligation (USO) with the Government launching its consultation on the design of a USO and BT making a voluntary offer to deliver this service.
The £400 million Digital Infrastructure Investment Fund to boost full-fibre broadband deployment is now formally launchedsamiragazzane
In November 2016, Chancellor Philip Hammond announced the creation of a new Digital Infrastructure Investment Fund (DIIF) of £400 million, matched by private finance to invest in new full fibre networks over the next 4 years. After being announced again in the March 2017 Budget alongside other measures to boost investment in digital infrastructure, the Fund was formally launched yesterday.
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.
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.
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.
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.