Out-Law / Your Daily Need-To-Know

Out-Law News 1 min. read

UK chancellor expected to reveal funding plans for 'full fibre' broadband

UK chancellor Philip Hammond is expected to announce funding for 'full-fibre' broadband in Wednesday's Autumn Statement, according to media reports.

More than £400 million of public funds will be made available to broadband providers under a new Digital Infrastructure Investment Fund, according to a BBC report. Industry will be asked to match the funding, according to a report by the Financial Times.

The money will be aimed at supporting the growth of 'full-fibre' broadband services, which can offer download speeds of up to 1 Gbps to users, according to the reports. Hammond will also outline £740m of funding for trials of '5G' technologies, and further funds to support broadband connectivity in rural areas, the reports said.

Telecoms expert Reg Dhanjal of Pinsent Masons, the law firm behind Out-Law.com, said: "It has been indicated that the funding will be designed to boost commercial finance for emerging fibre broadband providers looking to scale up. So this is good news for alternative infrastructure providers such as CityFibre, Hyperoptic and Gigaclear as well as the faster rollout of ultrafast broadband to consumers and businesses in the UK.

In 2015, the previous coalition government pledged to ensure 'ultrafast' broadband is made "available to nearly all UK premises as soon as practicable". Ultrafast broadband was deemed by the coalition government to mean internet speeds measuring at least 100 mbps. The present Conservative government said it would progress with the ultrafast broadband plans if elected in the UK general election in May 2015.

A broadband investment fund was an idea first outlined in the government's Autumn Statement and Spending Review announcement last year, when George Osborne was UK chancellor.  At the time the government said: "Competition between broadband providers supports the delivery of the fast and reliable broadband a modern, productive economy needs. Innovative approaches to supporting the market will help deliver ultrafast speeds to nearly all premises." 

The previous coalition government said that "innovative financial and commercial models" could be used to encourage investment in telecoms infrastructure and help deliver 'ultrafast' broadband services to businesses and communities in the UK. It suggested mobile broadband technologies, alongside new and faster fixed-line internet service technologies, could be relied upon to achieve the ultrafast broadband goal.

In March's Budget announcement, Osborne said that the UK government would "deliver a 5G strategy in 2017" and that it would be informed by recommendations to be made by the National Infrastructure Commission before the end of 2016.

Technology law experts Simon Colvin and Natalie Trainor of Pinsent Masons last month said that technology should be at the heart of infrastructure planning and operation in the UK. They welcomed the National Needs Assessment (NNA) report which offered recommendations on how to harness the power of technology in infrastructure policy.

We are processing your request. \n Thank you for your patience. An error occurred. This could be due to inactivity on the page - please try again.