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Digital Minister Matt Hancock Recommits to “Full Fibre” Broadband Policy

Wednesday, June 14th, 2017 (5:15 pm) - Score 1,455

The Government’s returning Digital Minister, Matthew Hancock MP, has today told the Connected Britain event in London that he will recommit to the current policy of fostering “full fibre” broadband and 5G mobile, which is despite the fact that a deal between the Conservative Party and DUP has yet to be signed.

At present it’s still not clear precisely what policies will survive any agreement between the Conservatives and DUP, although that didn’t stop Matthew Hancock from pledging to continue the previous digital policy. In fairness this is somewhat of a predictable outcome since, on the digital infrastructure front at least, neither party has any big differences.

In other words the Broadband Delivery UK project’s effort to make fixed line “superfast broadband” (24Mbps+) speeds available to around 97% of UK premises by 2020 will continue, as will their plan to introduce a 10Mbps Universal Service Obligation (USO) to help tackle those in the final 3%.

On top of that they’ve recently committed £600m to boost “full fibre” (FTTP/H) deployments and aim to support future 5G mobile services. Not to mention that 100% business rates relief on new full-fibre infrastructure for a 5 year period. Essentially everything that was confirmed as part of the Budget 2017 (click for details) announcement remains.

Matthew Hancock MP said:

“The assurance I can give you with the return of a Conservative government, myself as minister of culture and Karen Bradley as secretary of state, is we have our feet firmly under the table. We are clearly committed to strengthening the UK’s position as a world leading digital economy and it is cornerstone of our economic and social development. We’re committed to affordable high speed connectivity to ever business and home.

We support the goal of high levels of UK connectivity delivered by commercial investment within a framework delivered by government. We all know we need to do more and I am delighted to be back to do just that.”

So what about all of those other pledges in the 2017 Conservative Manifesto? As we said at the time of its publication (here), the Conservative manifesto largely reiterated the Government’s existing direction, although it did set a target of 2022 for achieving 95% geographic coverage of Mobile connectivity and 10 million premises “connected to full fibre” (FTTP/H).

However, the targets are largely covered by existing plans and future private investment, which makes them somewhat of a hollow pledge. For example, Openreach and Virgin Media already expect to have 4 million premises passed with FTTP by 2020 and Altnets could add another couple of million to that and more may be added between 2020 and 2022. Suddenly the gap that needs filling to hit 10 million isn’t vast.

Most recently Openreach has also spoken of a possible aspiration to do 10 million premises with FTTP by 2025, which suggests that the Government might not need to put a lot of effort in to hit their target. Time will tell but right now there’s nothing terribly new to report from the incoming Government, assuming it survives the next few months and Brexit talks.

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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.
Leave a Comment
8 Responses
  1. Patrick Cosgrove says:

    ” …,,,, assuming it survives the next few months and Brexit talks.”

    Well, I certainly hope not.

  2. Fastman says:

    hope not it survives or hope not it deliver 10m full fibre premises

  3. 3G Infinity says:

    I hope

  4. MikeW says:

    The DUP will be well advised to get Matt Hancock to stop spouting about competition for ultrafast, and spend his time focussed on rural infill of superfast.

  5. NGA for all says:

    The B USO remains mis-guided as a significant amount of those without 10 Mbps will be in urban areas and SME where BT’s preference and indeed SPs is to sell private circuits to solve a distance problem.

  6. Declan M says:

    Can only hope would be a massive task for full fibre but totally worth it!

  7. RuralBroadbandSucks says:

    I assume that the new plan will be “Full fibre starting in urban areas first” as that will look good on the progress/marketing graphs even though they can superfast/ultrafast already.
    Forget about rural or put them (us) back to the end of the upgrade list again as that costs too much?

    1. MikeW says:

      That’s the implicit outcome of Hancock’s “competition solves everything” policy.

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