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Gov Praises UK Broadband Sector for Creating 22,000 New Jobs

Thursday, April 1st, 2021 (7:43 pm) - Score 1,968
fibre optic cables pile 2020

The UK Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, has this afternoon praised broadband ISPs for helping to create more than 22,000 new jobs over the past year as “forecasts for gigabit rollout are revised further upwards,” which is an interesting statement coming so soon after the Government’s decision to downgrade their own coverage target.

The new statement was made after the PM and Digital Secretary, Oliver Dowden MP, met with the “biggest names in broadband” today to discuss their plans for the new state aid funded £5bn Project Gigabit strategy. The programme aims to ensure that 1Gbps speeds can reach at least 85% of UK premises by the end of 2025, although the previous target for this date was to reach “every home.”

NOTE: At present c.40% of UK premises can already access a gigabit network, which should reach c.60% by the end of 2021. But the majority of that is thanks to commercial builds in urban areas (i.e. most of it stems from Virgin Media’s DOCSIS 3.1 upgrade, while the rest comes from FTTP). Commercial builds could reach 70-80% by 2025.

Certainly, it’s true to say that some of the largest commercial operators, such as Openreach (BT), Virgin Media and Cityfibre, have been busy creating thousands of new jobs to fuel their expanded network coverage ambitions over the past year. The Government and Ofcom have so far also helped to foster that through various positive changes to regulation, cutting red tape and other investment and voucher schemes etc.

However, we shouldn’t forget that a significant amount of job creation has come from the plethora of smaller alternative network (altnet) providers, which are also investing in similar work but were not part of today’s roundtable event (Summary of UK Full Fibre Build Progress). At the time of writing, it remains unclear whether today’s figure of 22,000 jobs has included the contribution from such players, which are busy investing billions into the market.

Oliver Dowden, Digital Secretary, said:

“Our plan to level up communities across the UK by giving them the fastest broadband on the planet is working. We’re now on track to connect 60 per cent of homes and businesses to gigabit speeds by the end of the year and I’m thrilled to see the tens of thousands of jobs being created as we build back better from the pandemic.

But we want to go further and faster, which is why today the Prime Minister and I sat down with the biggest names in broadband to discuss what more we can do together to end the battle over bandwidth.

It was a useful and constructive meeting where we emphasised our goal to speed up investment from our £5 billion Project Gigabit fund if providers can put forward workable plans to accelerate the delivery of lightning-fast connections for every part of the UK.”

Clive Selley CEO, Openreach, said:

“We are proud to be doing our part to provide the UK with world-class broadband. No-one else is building full fibre faster than us: 42,000 homes and businesses each week and we’ve just reached 4.5m in total. Thanks to the WFTMR we’ve secured the necessary investment from BT Group to deliver to 20million premises and we’ve built the team to deliver. Over the past two years, we’ve created more than 6,500 trainee engineering roles and recently announced an additional 2,500 direct jobs along with c.2,800 within our supply chain. This is more than any other builder.

Whilst we welcome the measures set out in Project Gigabit – and share the PM’s ambition – we’d like to see barriers tackled even more quickly. This will help us, and other builders, to go even further and faster.

In order for the UK to seize the huge potential of a world-class, gigabit-capable network Government needs to tackle some vested interests. One pressing issue is making it easier for fixed network builders to access blocks of flats and private lands. Reaching these premises is critical for levelling-up the country and building at pace. Whilst DCMS has now consulted on the Electronic Communications Code, we need to see bold changes implemented quickly.

Openreach is building in both urban and rural areas. It’s good to see that DCMS has started the procurement for the £5bn but we need to see it done quickly and with a focus on the quality of network build. If the sector is going to pass the Government’s 85% target and connect the hardest to reach parts of the country, vouchers also need to be available for people living in all rural exchanges areas.”

In a statement DCMS said that today’s event “came as the government upped its forecast for the proportion of homes and businesses with access to gigabit-capable connections by the end of the year from 50 per cent to 60 per cent.” Except Virgin Media’s ongoing plan to make 1Gbps speeds (DOCSIS 3.1 upgrade) available across their entire network by the end of 2021 meant that his was already somewhat of a long-expected outcome.

The other attendees at today’s event were Gigaclear, Sky Broadband (not building their own FTTP network), TalkTalk (no longer building their own FTTP network), Ofcom and Hyperoptic. But if the government are serious about wider engagement through the new gigabit programme then they really need to engage with operators from a much wider pool of this rapidly evolving sector.

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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.
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26 Responses
  1. JP says:

    Creating jobs and keeping them places open is two different things,

    Creating jobs and giving out full time contracts that people can live on is also two different things.

    At the end of lock down No.1 myself and many others returned to work to find we where hiring more people, however the people hired got very few hours and the existing staff also lost hours.

    I don’t wanna here this echoing BS from any government or actually anybody who isn’t on the ground witnessing these jobs.

    The reality is, there is jobs for everyone, but whether you get the hours is different.

    1. Mike says:

      The government only cares about unemployment figures and one easy way to keep that down is to limit full time hours by mandating employers give more entitlements/pay if employees work over x amount of hours, so they have to hire more people to complete the work.

    2. JP says:

      You said it, It’s a shame nobody is as vocal about these issues than they are about other woke bs that is only further dividing us inhabitants and pushing the gap between the classes and further adding to the oppression of select classes of people.

  2. Ig Og says:

    150,000 COVID-19 deaths cannot be ignored.

    1. Joan says:

      Yes he is to blame for this deaths

    2. Aled says:

      Thank you for the reminder that apparently covid is serious. We had all forgotten about that, since we never hear about it on the news.

  3. Ig Og says:

    Yes we agree.

  4. Regorimabitbackward says:

    What happens to these jobs once you’ve built high tech low maintenance network?

  5. Aled says:

    Well if they’re asking for easier land and building access, what are the obvious changes that can be made?

    It sounds like giving BT the right to access flats with minimal interference and no fees from the landlord would be a start, but there could be foreseeable issues.

    Am not entirely sure how rural private land build out works these days. Not even like you have a sewer or ducting under the road in the places. Does FTTP lend itself to being mounted on telephone poles, or do they prefer to install underground ducting following roads for several km?

    1. The Facts says:

      Plenty of fibre on poles. A label says ‘optical fibre above’.

  6. Buggerlugz says:

    The man is utterly deluded in everything he says. 22,000 jobs with little prospect for advance, low pay, pointless pensions and about as unsecure as the next one.

    1. Fastman says:

      less deluded that Corbyn who was going to give broadband for free (expct it was going to cost 80bn from than he said it was) – decimate the industry and set it back 40 years —

    2. Anna says:

      80BN is nothing compared to what they give their mates on a yearly basis..

    3. Buggerlugz says:

      Who’s Corbyn?

    4. Mike says:

      I’d say Johnson is worse because he should know better, I expect this sort of behaviour from Corbyn/Starmer, even they are against the new anti-freedom bill working its way through Parliament.

  7. MR says:

    The usual twisted half truths then from government and the monopoly player. In each other’s pockets. Those jobs are hopefully with the altnets where hopefully Ofcom won’t scrap them all with some stupid rule change to favour BT in the future. But a smaller independent altnet would probably be more rewarding to work for then a giant monopolistic corporation, probably get more job satisfaction too.
    Let’s hope they are kept around after 2025…

    1. Buggerlugz says:

      Optimism, love it.

    2. Fastman says:

      depends what you do — beter there are some Great small compansies as well as not great small companies and all walks of life

      job satisfaction can be measured in many forms

    3. boost says:

      I’m sure there’s nothing more rewarding than working for an altnet that has no cash to build a scalable network and no resource to deal with the tickets raised because of it 😛

    4. Fastman says:


      thats your opinion and your welcome to it

  8. Regorimabitbackward says:

    Here’s an idea employ new start ups on lower pay poorer pensions and job prospects offer existing higher paid staff jobs at new sites miles away or voluntary redundancies or employ contractors who intern employ agency staff on minimum wage or zero hours once new network completed job done left with new lower paid workforce sounds like a plan.

    1. Buggerlugz says:

      Said BT.

    2. Fastman says:


      whole heap of companies who that could refer to in multiple industries (including telecomms) m but you mention only BT – – (never mined the facts – always about the narrative

  9. Regorimabitbackward says:

    Buggerlugz is spot on I once worked for a local bus company who had negotiated with the union 2 pay grades for doing the same job to protect the longer serving employees this being for driving “ big buses” hence when a big bus driver had a late shift would offer it to lower grade driver the important phrase was “ keep the grade” this would mean the lower grade driver got that drivers higher pay grade for taking his late shift. So not just BT then.

    1. Fastman says:

      as per my comment many companies — Buggerlugz seems intent to focus on one (BT) all about the narrative – never mind the facts

  10. John Tibbles says:

    My fear is that places with ‘adequate’ ADSL will be left behind as efforts go into more headline catching areas. Also UK has a heck of a long way to go to be the best in the world, our usual idiotic goal which we never reach and waste money on when being ‘one of the best is all we actually need.
    My own experience after moving house recently was that BT Open reach and Virgin are all hopeless at actually managing serices. Non of them knew what speeds I could get in my new home and all quoted me different speeds and different services. VM claimed I could get fibre -I can’t as they admitted in the end, BT /Openreach apologised that they could only give me basic broadband 8-10 Mbs . after a lot of effort on my part BT discovered I could actually get 80mbs although its only 65.

    So a long long way to go. I think mere should be done to support local provdiers like Truespeed and leave the back bone stuff to the big companies

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