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UK National Infrastructure Delivery Plan – Nothing New for Broadband

Wednesday, March 23rd, 2016 (10:53 am) - Score 1,237

The Government has today re-announced published their ‘New National Infrastructure Delivery Plan‘, which highlights a commitment to invest over £100bn into UK infrastructure by 2020-21 (transport, housing, digital comms, energy etc.). But there’s not much new for broadband Internet connectivity.

We had been hoping that the final plan might produce at least a little more detail on some of the Government’s new broadband proposals, such as the Broadband Investment Fund (here) that is designed to help alternative network providers to secure funding to build out their infrastructure.

But sadly all we got was a rundown of what has already been covered in both the previous 2016 and 2015 Budgets (summary) and a little slice of extra financial detail.

uk_infrastructure_delivery_plan

Priorities to 2020-21 (Broadband and Mobile)

Key projects and programmes

• Superfast broadband [fixed line] to 95% of premises by 2017

• Voice coverage to 90% of the UK geographic area by the end of 2017. The government has secured a landmark agreement with the 4 MNOs which will also deliver significant improvements to mobile internet coverage.

4G rollout: By 2017, 98% of premises should have access to 4G mobile broadband.

• Spectrum clearance to further enhance mobile broadband connectivity by helping to future-proof the coverage, capacity and quality of the UK’s mobile networks, the government is committed to releasing 700MHz spectrum for mobile broadband use. Ofcom plans to hold an auction before the end of the Parliament.

• The government will make available 750MHz of valuable public sector spectrum in bands under 10GHz by 2022, of which 500MHz will be made available by 2020.

Policy milestones

7.20 The government intends to create a broadband Universal Service Obligation (USO), which would provide a legal entitlement to broadband. The government’s ambition is for the minimum speed for a USO to be 10Mbps, which we will look to raise over time and it will consult soon on the next steps for this proposal.

7.21 The government is committed to delivering a 5G strategy in 2017, and has asked the National Infrastructure Commission to assess how the UK can become a world leader in 5G infrastructure deployment, and how to ensure that the UK can take early advantage of the potential benefits of 5G services.

It’s worth pointing out that the money allocated to Communications breaks down as £5bn for the “Digital Economy” and just £986m for “Broadband” (details), which is probably reflecting the national Broadband Delivery UK programme spend (seems about the same level) and excludes contributions from local authorities, EU and private sector partners (e.g. BT).

On the other hand the £986m figure is presented without clarification and appears to be split between £557m in 2016/17 and £428m in 2017/18, which suggests that it may not be BDUK (perhaps they’ve included the above mobile network commitments into the total?) because BDUK has already consumed well over £400m of its budget (here) and that’s before we even get to 2016/17.

We’ve shot a question off to BDUK in the hope of some clarity.

The New National Infrastructure Delivery Plan
https://www.gov.uk/government/news/new-national-infrastructure-delivery-plan-gets-britain-building

UPDATE 3:38pm

We’re informed by HM Treasury that the £986m figure is actually private investment and reflects Virgin Media’s project lightning deployment (cable network expansion to an extra 4 million premises).

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Mark Jackson
By Mark Jackson
Mark is a professional technology writer, IT consultant and computer engineer from Dorset (England), he also founded ISPreview in 1999 and enjoys analysing the latest telecoms and broadband developments. Find me on Twitter, , Facebook and Linkedin.
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