News

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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Lloyds UK Digital Index 2018 shows reasons behind the digital divide

The third Lloyds UK Consumer Digital Index released today looks into financial and digital capability in the UK for 2018. With a focus on digital skills, financial resilience, and inclusivity the report reveals improvements for those gaining digital skills, with 470,000 more than last year with new skills. Initiatives such as those set up last year by the Department for Culture, Media and Sport’s Digital Skills Partnership have been credited with collaborating to promote best practice through the creation of a network of over 70 cross-sector bodies.

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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.

Ernst & Young Segment the Digital Household

Ernst and Young has published findings into consumer and household attitudes into broadband – including both connectivity and content. The research – Segmenting the Digital Household – follows on from the Bundle Jungle study published towards the end of last year. It details how differences in attitudes might affect customer preferences and behaviours, highlighting where communications providers can engage with and provide for consumer needs more effectively.

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LFFN Projects funding awards announced

Chancellor Philip Hammond announced in the Spring Statement the areas that will be receiving funding from the £190 million Local Full Fibre Network allocated by the Government in 2017’s Autumn Budget. The second, substantive, wave of funding was awarded to 13 areas across the UK. Successfully bidding for the £95 million were Armagh City, Belfast, Blackpool, Cambridgeshire, Cardiff, Coventry, The Highlands, London, Manchester, Mid Sussex, North Yorkshire, Portsmouth, and Wolverhampton. (more…)

BDUK gets superfast broadband to 4.77 million

Figures published today by DCMS showed that BDUK-supported projects have seen 4,772,207 premises with a superfast broadband service available to them by the end of December 2017. The £1.7 billion Government program, BDUK, has provided funding where superfast broadband would be otherwise commercially unviable, enabling the Government to deliver on its manifesto commitment that 95% of the UK would have access to superfast speeds by the end of last year.

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