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UK Broadband industry surprised by government spending review

pandemic has amplified the digital divide, with many households forced to work and study from home and struggling with substandard broadband. Levelling up in terms of broadband infrastructure is not a case of north versus south, but rather harder-to-connect communities versus major conurbations where the build economics look far more impressive. We’re making great inroads in getting the full fibre show on the road but we - and other infrastructure providers - still have more to do to be ready for the government’s ‘Gigabit for everyone’ grand opening in 2025. Without a doubt, Gigabit-capable broadband connectivity is going to be an essential building block in the UK’s educational and economic renewal.”

businesses in the UK. For those rural and remote areas of the UK where the commercial cost of connecting premises is considered to be too high, subsidies from government are to be provided. For more than a year the sector has been told that £5 billion would be allocated to ensure no homes and businesses were left behind in the gigabit digital revolution. However, the Chancellor’s Spending Review allocating just £1.2 billion in the period to 2021-25 came as a surprise to all in the industry. Evan Wienburg, CEO of challenger altnet Truespeed commented, “While the Chancellor hasn’t focused on additional full fibre

Changes to the UK government’s self-imposed target for delivering gigabit broadband to 100% of the country have taken broadband industry leaders by surprise. Confusion also reigned over whether the original commitment to provide £5 billion of public funding for hard to reach areas had been watered down to £1.2 billion. “The government has recognised that completing a full commercial build and tackling the subsidised harder to reach areas at the same time is very challenging.” INCA Chief Executive Malcolm Corbett said. “Having spoken with officials our understanding is that the £5 billion of funding committed in the National Infrastructure Strategy is ring-fenced and if more of that funding can

be brought forward into the Spending Review period, that will happen.” The ambitious target date of 2025 for 100% coverage across the UK was set by the Prime Minister, originally as full fibre coverage, but later changed to include Virgin Media’s cable network and some wireless broadband services. The National Infrastructure Strategy, published today as part of the Chancellor’s Spending Review, has changed the target. “The government is working with industry to target a minimum of 85% gigabit capable coverage by 2025 but will seek to accelerate roll-out further to get as close to 100% as possible,” the review says. The government expects the private sector to deliver gigabit-capable broadband to around 80% of homes and

infrastructure funding in today’s spending review, levelling up our nation’s digital divide remains a priority. The COVID-19

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