News

A new Telecoms Diversification Task Force

A new taskforce, the Telecoms Diversification Task Force, has been set up to support the development and implementation of the government’s forthcoming strategy on the UK’s telecoms supply chain – aimed at reducing the reliance on high-risk vendors and bring more players into the market. Lord Livingston will lead the taskforce as Chair, with members from industry (Vodafone, Openreach, Copper Horse, BSI) and academic experts from Universities of Surrey and Bristol. Technical Director of NCSC and Ofcom’s Director of Emerging Technology will provide technical advice.  (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…)

Ofcom’s Connected Nations Report – Summer 2020

Ofcom has published its interim report which states that full fibre broadband is now available to over 4.2 million UK homes (14%), an increase of 670,000 (2%) since January. This is a result of increased rollout from the expansion of existing broadband networks as well as companies building entirely new fibre networks.

The UK Government recently announced that almost 500,000 premises across the UK have been connected to gigabit-capable broadband since summer 2018 as a result of a £1 billion government funding commitment that runs until the end of 2021, with a further £5 billion earmarked for the hardest-to-reach areas. Government has also launched a new taskforce – GigaTAG – to encourage further take-up of gigabit broadband services. (more…)

Launch of Government’s National Data Strategy

Digital Secretary Oliver Dowden announced Government’s National Data Strategy to drive growth, boost innovation, create new jobs and improve public services. Government will develop a clear policy framework to determine what interventions are needed to unlock the value of data across the economy and help drive the recovery from Covid-19. It proposes an overhaul in the use of data across the public sector and a programme of work will be launched that will transform the way data is managed, used, shared internally within government, and with wider public sectors organisations. (more…)

Release of 700 MHz spectrum band for 4G and 5G mobile use

One of Government’s major infrastructure projects – the clearance of 700 MHz spectrum airwaves – has  been delivered, allowing it to be used for 5G services and 4G rural mobile coverage.

On 20 August Ofcom announced that it had completed the work which began in 2017. This involved moving Freeview TV channels out of the 700 MHz spectrum band and re-tuning TV equipment in millions of homes, 99% of which was done by viewers themselves. Arqiva carried out the engineering necessary to change the frequencies on which transmitters were operating. TV broadcasters, Digital UK and Freeview, and Digital Mobile Spectrum Limited (DMSL) were all heavily involved. (more…)

Government guidance to drive 5G and fibre deployment

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…)

Ofcom customer service updates

New research published by Ofcom highlights which phone and broadband companies are setting the industry standard for good customer service in the UK.

Sharing the data, based on company performance up to January 2020, therefore before the COVID-19 pandemic unfolded, Ofcom’s fourth annual Comparing Customer Service report shows that overall, 85% of broadband customers say they are satisfied with their service. Specifically, the report looks at how each of the major telecoms providers performed in 2019 on measures including customer complaints received, value for money and overall customer satisfaction. (more…)

Wholesale Voice Markets Review 2021–26

As we move away from traditional analogue landline voice calls over the next five years, IP is expected to become the main method of interconnection. Ofcom is reviewing several markets, looking ahead to how competitive conditions may change over the period, how they could affect the retail and wholesale markets and the factors likely to influence their competitive development. (more…)

Almost 500,000 premises across the UK are now connected to gigabit-capable broadband

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 announces £1.3bn investment to deliver homes, infrastructure and jobs

The funding announced by MHCLG and BEIS will provide up to 45,000 homes, create up to 85,000 jobs and upgrade skills and infrastructure to help fuel a green economic recovery.

A new £2bn Green Homes Grant scheme will fund up to two-thirds of the cost of home improvements of over 600,000 homes. Over 300 successful “shovel-ready” projects in England will receive a share of the £900m Getting Building Fund to build homes and infrastructure. A further £360m investment will deliver 26,000 new homes on brownfield land and £8 million of funding will help speed up the delivery of the new homes on brownfield sites. Government is inviting bids from the Mayoral Combined Authorities for the remaining £40 million of the fund. (more…)

Open Communications – Enabling people to share data with innovative services

In Ofcom’s consultation the potential uses and benefits of Open Communications are explored and how it could best work for people and businesses. In particular, how to enable consumers and small businesses to share information about their services with third parties of their choice easily and securely. In 2019, the Government’s Smart Data Review proposed to introduce Open Communications through legislation, to stimulate innovation and promote the development of new services that improve outcomes. Responses to this consultation will help to inform Government thinking on the future development of Open Communications.

BSG held an online workshop in June with industry, Ofcom and Government to discuss initial thinking in this area. (more…)

Ofcom confirms plans for spectrum auction in January 2021

The UK regulator has confirmed plans to auction important airwaves to help improve mobile broadband and support the rollout of 5G, announcing it will release more airwaves, with bidding set to start in January 2021.

The auction will increase the total amount of spectrum available for mobile in the UK by nearly a fifth (18%) – helping improve mobile services and give people better access to 5G. (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…)