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UK Government Reannounce 100% Business Rates Relief on “Full Fibre”

Tuesday, July 4th, 2017 (5:06 pm) - Score 1,448
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The Government has today introduced their new Telecommunications Infrastructure Bill 2017-19, which among other things sets out the mechanism for supporting their 100% business rates relief on new 5G Mobile and “full-fibre” (FTTH/P) broadband networks (estimated to be worth £60m).

The Chancellor of the Exchequer, Philip Hammond MP, first unveiled the proposed 5 year relief from business rates on related infrastructure during November 2016’s Autumn Statement (here) and this will be backdated to 1st April 2017. The measure is naturally designed to complement the new £400m Digital Infrastructure Investment Fund (DIIF), which was also reannounced this week (here).

Matt Hancock MP, Minister of State for Digital, said:

“We want Britain to remain the digital world leader that it is, and that means having the right infrastructure in place that will allow us keep up with the rapid advances in technology now and in the future.

We want to see more commercial investment in the gold standard connectivity that full-fibre provides, and the 100% business rate relief and the Digital Infrastructure investment fund will provide a strong incentive for this.”

Marcus Jones, Minister for Local Government, added:

“Regardless of where you live or work, we want everyone to benefit from access to the fast, affordable and reliable broadband they need to thrive.

From making it easier to work from home to allowing digital businesses to flourish, our measures are creating the right conditions for more high-skilled, high-paid jobs of the future.

We’ve already committed £400 million for new digital infrastructure fund and this Government’s Digital Strategy is helping bring together business organisations, local authorities and communications providers.

Now the Telecommunications Infrastructure Bill is going one step further to kick start the installation of new fibre, paving the way for better connectivity across the country.”

The new relief is most welcome and should indeed be a good tool for encouraging new network operators to roll-out their Fibre-to-the-Premise (FTTP/H) based “full fibre” broadband networks, although its advantages may be reduced by the government’s hike in rates for existing operators (here).

Last year the Broadband Stakeholders Group suggested that the aforementioned hike could push BT’s related annual bills in England alone from £165m to £743m from 1st April 2017. Suddenly all that talk about providing £60m worth of support doesn’t seem quite so impressive.

It’s worth pointing out that the new bill, which is tiny and effectively focuses on a single issue (this should help get it passed into law quite quickly), only covers England and Wales.

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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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