Broadband

Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport written question – answered on 8th February 2019.

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Photo of Matthew Offord Matthew Offord Conservative, Hendon

To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, what progress his Department has made on establishing a nationwide, full-fibre broadband network.

Photo of Margot James Margot James The Minister of State, Department for Culture, Media and Sport

In July 2018, the government published the Future Telecoms Infrastructure Review (FTIR), setting out a commitment to deliver nationwide full fibre coverage by 2033. This would be achieved through encouraging market competition and commercial investment, whilst intervening in uncommercial areas through an Outside-In approach.

Over £1.7bn of public money has been invested in the BDUK superfast programme, which met our target to extend superfast coverage to 95% of UK premises by December 2017. Further investment through BDUK to reach 97% superfast coverage will be solely through full fibre deployment

Starting in April 2019, the £200m Rural Gigabit Connectivity programme announced in the 2018 budget will also deliver full fibre connections to local hubs in rural areas, starting with primary schools, alongside vouchers for connectivity to nearby premises.

Government is also supporting competitive commercial investment through the £400m Digital Infrastructure Investment Fund, which is expected to unlock over £1bn investment in full fibre. Since Summer 2017, the £294m Local Full Fibre Networks programme is also stimulating commercial investment in full fibre networks. This includes our £67m Gigabit Broadband Voucher Scheme, available to homes and businesses across the UK.

In addition, the Government is continuing to address barriers to deployment. We published two consultations on policy options to reform existing access arrangements to provide a right of entry for communication providers in cases of absentee landlords, and to ensure full fibre connections to new build developments. These consultations are now closed and the Government will publish responses shortly.

Industry have continued to respond with commitments to full fibre rollout. CityFibre recently announced a £2.5bn investment plan to expand its full fibre network to 5 million homes in partnership with Vodafone, and Hyperoptic have secured funding to target up to 5 million homes by 2024, whilst Openreach have expanded the reach of its Fibre First rollout to 25 towns, cities or boroughs. According to Ofcom’s Connected Nations report 2018, commercial and public rollout has delivered upwards of a million full fibre connections over the last 12 months.

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