Next generation broadband

The GigaTAG publishes its final report

The Gigabit Take-up Advisory Group (GigaTAG) was set up in August 2020, led by Which? to look into how to stimulate demand among consumers and businesses for gigabit-capable broadband. The final report has been published. BSG was part of the advisory group as the voice of the industry. To coincide with the launch of the report, Which? CBI, FSB, Ofcom and BSG hosted a panel discussion to explore the recommendations set out in the report and how these can be taken forward. (more…)

Detailed Overview of the Gigabit Infrastructure Subsidy Scheme

The government has published ‘Delivering a gigabit-capable UK: Gigabit Infrastructure Subsidy‘ which provides an end to end overview of how the government will manage the Gigabit Infrastructure Subsidy scheme within Project Gigabit.

By way of background, the Future Telecoms Infrastructure Review published in July 2018 laid out a vision for a full fibre and 5G future for the UK highlighting the considerable potential benefits to the UK. One key finding was that the UK was in danger of falling behind on rolling out fibre and 5G connections and proposed as part of a wider range of measures an “outside in” procurement approach, named the Gigabit Infrastructure Subsidy. (more…)

Prime Minister and Digital Secretary praise broadband companies

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…)

Project Gigabit (Phase 1b): Open Market Review request for information

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…)

Gigabit plans for Scotland

Under Project Gigabit which was announced today, the UK government has pledged a further £2 million to extend investment to NHS Scotland sites in isolated areas of the country.

91 GP surgeries and community hospitals in rural parts of Scotland – including remote island services on Arran, Jura, Lewis, Mull, Shetland and Orkney – will benefit from gigabit broadband upgrades. A further £1 million has also been pledged to extend full fibre to even more schools, hospitals and doctors’ surgeries across the Highlands. Public buildings will have faster internet speeds from a £7.3 million total investment through the government’s Local Full Fibre Networks scheme. In the northern isles of Yell and Unst in Shetland, work as part of a £2 million project to connect 21 schools, council buildings and other public sites to fibre broadband has now been completed. Up to 37 sites are expected to receive connections in March with all due to completed by March 2022.  (more…)

Government launches ‘Project Gigabit’ 

The government has announced ‘Project Gigabit’, its mission to deliver gigabit-capable broadband across the UK. The project will be a series of phases, with the first phase providing one million hard-to-reach buildings with gigabit coverage and new funding for gigabit vouchers. An extra £210 million worth of vouchers will be released to help those with slow speeds, and another £110 million will connect up to 7,000 rural GP surgeries, libraries and schools. Up to 510,000 homes and businesses in Cambridgeshire, Cornwall, Cumbria, Dorset, Durham, Essex, Northumberland, South Tyneside and Tees Valley will be the first to benefit as part of the project, with contracts for these first areas going to tender in the spring. (more…)

Central Scotland to benefit from UK government’s gigabit programme

The government has announced that £4.5 million of the UK government’s nationwide gigabit programme will be spent on more than 5,300 homes and businesses in Ayrshire, Edinburgh, Falkirk, Fife, Stirlingshire, Greater Glasgow and Lothian. The premises were due to benefit from superfast broadband through the Scottish Government’s Reach 100 (R100) programme. However, on the basis that the UK Gigabit Programme would have to revisit the premises at some point in the future to convert them to FTTP, it made more sense to go directly to gigabit capability thereby reducing costs. (more…)

UK Gigabit Programme: Cumbria Public Review

As part of the UK Gigabit Programme, BDUK has issued a request for information on a new procurement to extend coverage of gigabit-capable broadband across Cumbria. Last November BDUK conducted an Open Market Review (OMR) which requested information from suppliers regarding details and supporting evidence of any current or planned investment over the next three years in broadband infrastructure in the county. The OMR indicated that planned commercial coverage for gigabit-capable broadband will reach approximately 141,034 premises within the next three years, and will leave the remaining 143,864 premises without access to gigabit-capable broadband. (more…)

BDUK Superfast Programme evaluation

The DCMS commissioned Ipsos Mori to carry out a State Aid evaluation of the UK National Broadband Scheme which was established in 2010 to help extend high-speed broadband connectivity to areas, including those that were not expected to benefit from commercial rollouts. The scheme has reached over 96% of premises in the UK today and provided £2.7bn worth of economic benefits.   (more…)

2020-21 Spending Review and National Infrastructure Strategy

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…)

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…)

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 – Changes to WiFi, EECC update, Guidance for Vulnerable Customers and Call for Evidence on Emerging Technologies

Ofcom is making airwaves in the lower 6 GHz band available for WiFi services without the need for a licence, following a consultation earlier this year. The technical requirements for WiFi routers are also being amended to ease congestion and help meet the growing demand for wireless services now and in the future.

A further consultation on revised proposals to implement the new EECC has been launched, ahead of the final decisions due to be published in the autumn. These are (i) changes to the scope of the rules on annual best tariff information and (ii) revised definitions for ‘microenterprise’, ‘small enterprise’ customers and not-for-profit organisations. Deadline is 11 September. (more…)

BSG Report: Local Benefits for Full Fibre and 5G

The Broadband Stakeholder Group publishes research by Oxera to help local authorities understand the localised economic benefits of full-fibre and 5G

Key localised economic benefits of full-fibre and 5G include:

  • Local authorities can see up to 3.2 per cent increase in new businesses operating in the area. If reflected in business rates, a local authority could see an increase in gross revenue of over £10,000[1]
  • Existing businesses will see an increase in productivity which should result in an expected increase in turnover of up to 3.8 per cent per worker per annum
  • Local authorities can realise direct benefits by being able to implement more innovative public service delivery whilst driving down costs, such as through increased cloud adoption.

(more…)

Government outlines telecoms investment pipeline

The week the Government set out their analysis of the National Infrastructure and Construction Pipeline, including investment in digital infrastructure out to 2020/21 financial year (h/t ISPreview).

The report illustrates the level of public and private sector investment into the UK’s key infrastructure sectors, extending out 30 years in some sectors. For Digital Communications it sets out investment for the next three years which aligns with current Government funding programmes and given that most companies have not made public commitments beyond then.

An appendix to the report contains further details of individual company’s commitments – such as Virgin Media’s Project Lightning – through to Government projects for clearing the 700MHz spectrum band.

It will be interesting to keep an eye on these funding commitments next year as the need for Government investment increases in order to deliver the outside in approach for full fibre investment outlined in the Future Telecoms Infrastructure Review.