In the 2016 Autumn Statement Chancellor Philip Hammond announced a £400 million fund for investment in new digital infrastructure. This amount is to be matched by private investors pushing the total value of new investment to at least £800 million with aspirations for it to be as high as £1 billion.
Announcing the new fund, Mr Hammond told MPs that the UK must move towards full fibre to the property broadband connections indicating a change in government policy or at least entertaining the idea of promoting FTTP (Fibre to the Premises) connections over FTTC (Fibre to the Cabinet) technology which has had the vast majority of public funding of late.
The Government’s position until now has been to promote and invest in the roll out of the copper based FTTC technology as it represents a better return on investment to achieve coverage of Superfast broadband, this strategy has pushed Superfast broadband coverage across the UK to 89%. This new announcement hopefully signals an indication that the UK government are now willing to promote and invest in Gigabit connections taking the UK digital infrastructure to the next stage offering connections with up to 1Gbps upload and download bandwidth.
It is understood that this fund will be aimed at smaller operators who are already offering FTTP connections to a small number of customers- approximately 2% of properties currently have access to these connections but it is hoped that this new investment fund will increase that number and incentivise the bigger network providers such as BT and Virgin to improve their FTTP coverage.
The chancellor also committed £740 million to develop 5G and further roll out of fibre connections.