According to multiple sources, the broadband industry is about to get a huge boost this week. In Wednesday’s Autumn Statement, Chancellor Philip Hammond is set to pledge £400million for a new Digital Infrastructure fund for 5G and faster broadband.
Private investors will be asked to match this figure in a bid to put the UK on the digital map.
At the moment just 2% of the country has access to the FTTP connection that is already available in many locations across London. BT announced a London roll out of 1Gbps FTTP broadband earlier this month, but it isn’t yet available to the masses.
The Chancellor’s announcement is believed to also include £740 million to be used for further research on 5G technologies.
Responses to the government’s commitment to a digital Britain have been resoundingly positive across the board.
On the Today programme this morning, BT Chairman Sir Mike Rake said: “We are committed to getting fibre to the premise ultimately, which is the long-term game, because it’s much more reliable.”
He also took the opportunity to say that BT will enhance speeds for 95% of the country. Sir Mike also claimed that 12million homes would have broadband speeds in excess of 200Mbps by 2020.
In a statement, Fibre infrastructure provider CityFibre said they are also welcoming the news. Chief Executive Greg Mesch said: “Britain’s industrial strategy needs a digital backbone, and it is essential that we move quickly to plug the UK’s ‘fibre gap’ and empower our service-based economy.”
Despite this, some senior sources believe the Chancellor’s ambitious plans will cost far more than the projected price tag.
In a statement techUK Deputy CEO said: “Public funding therefore need to be targeted carefully. We believe the bulk of the investment required should come from the private sector.”
He added: “To unlock that investment we need the Government and Ofcom to work with the industry to set out a wider long-term strategy for telecoms. That strategy needs to focus on what more Government and Local Government can do to drive down infrastructure deployment costs.”