A joint technical consultation between the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) and the Ministry for Housing, Communities and Local Government (MHCLG) has been published today. It follows an earlier consultation in 2019 on the principle of the reforms. Views are being sought on proposed planning reforms that will allow the speedier deployment of telecoms equipment while keeping safeguards in place. (more…)
The Prime Minister and Digital Secretary met with the CEOs of the major broadband organisations today and praised the industry for creating more than 22,000 jobs over the last year. They welcomed the commitment from the organisations to help the nation build back better from the pandemic with gigabit broadband rollout, and underlined the government’s support to help industry’s efforts to connect as many homes and businesses as possible by 2025. The government has increased its forecast and new figures show rollout will reach 60 per cent by the end of 2021 (up from 50 per cent), putting the UK on track to be among the fastest build rates in Europe. (more…)
The Building Digital UK (BDUK) team has launched an Open Market Review (OMR) request for information (RFI) to help identify areas needing government intervention. This follows an earlier OMR and RFI for Cumbria. Early market research is an essential part of the team’s engagement with industry to shape public investment. The results of this OMR will provide a better understanding of the broadband infrastructure already in place, and where there are plans for investment over the next three years. The RFI will enable BDUK to make a significant step in the design of the areas to be targeted by the new procurements and contracts. (more…)
The Telecoms Infrastructure (Leasehold Property) Bill has successfully passed through parliament and is set to become law.
As a reminder, the Bill was introduced in late 2019 with the aim of allowing fixed broadband providers to gain access to multiple dwelling buildings (blocks of residential flats and apartments) in order to deploy, upgrade or maintain fixed-line broadband connections where a landlord has repeatedly failed to respond. The forthcoming law will place an obligation on landlords, via the Electronic Communications Code, to facilitate the deployment of digital infrastructure and enable providers to use magistrates courts to gain entry to properties.
In parallel, the consultation on further potential changes to the Electronic Communications Code is is underway on whether to make further changes to help improve the process between landowners and providers.
The National Infrastructure Commission (NIC) has published its Annual Monitoring Report 2021 setting out the priorities to be addressed over the next year and calls on the government to set out a clear roadmap, including a workable plan, for ensuring the hardest to reach homes and businesses get the benefits of high capacity broadband. (more…)
DCMS has published a consultation on changes to the Electronic Communications Code (ECC) which is the legal framework underpinning agreements between landowners and communications operators in the UK. The Code was substantially reformed in 2017 to make it easier and faster for apparatus to be deployed, maintained, shared and upgraded in rural areas, balancing the need for digital infrastructure with the rights of landowners and other site providers. (more…)
The Public Accounts Committee (PAC) has published its report Improving Broadband. It states that the revised target of at least 85% gigabit-capable coverage by 2025 is challenging and there is a risk that the very hardest to reach premises will be struggling with slow broadband for many years to come. Other concerns include the lack of detail about how the £1.2bn of the £5bn funding will be used to support the roll-out to the hardest-to-reach 20% of the UK’s 31m premises, and the slow progress in delivering the policy and legislative changes sought by industry. The report sets out the PAC’s conclusions and recommendations.
It is worth noting that gigabit-capable broadband networks (FTTP and DOCSIS 3.1) now cover 37.4% of UK premises, which is an increase from 22.1% six months ago. (more…)
DCMS has launched a technical consultation on its draft procurement strategy for the UK Gigabit Programme setting out plans to connect the first one million homes and businesses and maximise coverage in the hardest to reach 20% of the UK by 2025. The consultation seeks views to help target delivery of the programme, which includes demand-led approaches such as the voucher scheme and the new ‘outside-in’ supply-side interventions. The new procurements for gigabit infrastructure will begin in Spring 2021 and build is expected to begin at the end of 2021/early 2022.
Evidence to the inquiry found little confidence that nationwide gigabit-capable broadband by 2025 could be delivered, and MPs raised concerns that only 25% of the Government’s £5 billion to support roll-out to the hardest-to-reach premises will be made available during the period. The 4th report by the DCMS Select Committee says it would not be acceptable for Government to fail to meet the less ambitious target through lack of effective planning or inadequate investment. The report also finds the target for majority 5G coverage by 2027 ambitious given the ruling to ban the use of equipment by high-risk vendors.
The UK is undergoing a fundamental re-evaluation of the value that telecoms bring to the UK economy. The pandemic has consolidated the pivotal role that digital connectivity plays in underpinning the economy and wider society. Broadband and mobile connectivity have been the backbone of the accelerated drive to digital adoption, as the paper by Robert Kenny of Communications Chambers sets out. (more…)
In his Spending Review statement today, Chancellor Rishi Sunak announced that borrowing is expected to reach £394bn for the current fiscal year (19% of GDP) which is the highest recorded level of borrowing in peacetime. He spoke of three priorities: getting the country through coronavirus, stronger public services and delivering record investment plans in infrastructure (including faster broadband for over five million premises in the UK and 4G mobile coverage to 95%). The government also confirmed £3bn for a three-year Restart programme to help a million people who have been unemployed for over a year to find jobs. A levelling up pot of £4bn will also be available for local infrastructure projects. (more…)
DCMS and MCHLG updated valuation guidance to facilitate siting of digital infrastructure
Digital Infrastructure Minister Matt Warman and Local Government Minister Simon Clarke have today written to local authorities setting out how they can help boost gigabit broadband rollout and 5G mobile coverage, pointing to new government advice on land access and valuations. The advice aims for quicker deals that grant access for new digital infrastructure, such as 5G masts and full fibre broadband cabinets on public land, and with reasonable rents attached.
While councils are obliged to get ‘best value’ when agreeing land access agreements, non-monetary benefits such as enhanced connectivity for residents to work from home and SMEs to trade online, should be taken into account, as highlighted in our report ‘Impact at a local level of full-fibre and 5G investments’. (more…)
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…)
Government has launched a call for evidence as part of a review of the Access to Infrastructure (ATI) Regulations 2016, which enables sharing of information about access to physical infrastructure across the utility, transport and communications sectors. It also includes the right to access that infrastructure on fair and reasonable commercial terms and conditions. (more…)
Mandating the provision of fibre connectivity as standard in new build developments has been a longstanding policy priority for BSG and we responded to the DCMS consultation in December 2018. We welcome this week’s announcement that developers in England will now be required to install gigabit-capable infrastructure and, subject to a cost cap, a gigabit-capable connection. This will deliver internet speeds 200 times faster than you would need to watch an HD film on Netflix. (more…)