£400 million investment in UK broadband

The government has today launched its £400m Digital Infrastructure Investment Fund dedicated to improving the broadband of businesses and homes across the UK.

The fund was first promised in the Chancellor’s Autumn Statement last November and repeated in the Spring Budget, with the aim of deploying ultrafast “full-fibre” broadband to an additional 2 million premises in the UK.

The initiative will run for a 5-year period with 100% business rates relief, while the fund is expected to last for 4 years. The goal is to offer speeds from a minimum of 1GB per second through the installation of fibre optic cables that run up to the premises, replacing the reliance on copper cables that currently connect businesses and homes to roadside cabinets.

As more services move online, and in particular with the shift to cloud services, reliable broadband services and connectivity have never been higher on the business agenda. Over 4 million workers in the UK are unable to work from home because of poor telecoms services – a topic our Senior Telecoms Specialist Warren Free blogged about recently – so it’s great to see that homes are included as part of this initiative. Here at TSG, over 40% of our people regularly work from home, with significant benefits, so their broadband service is important to our business too. Living rurally shouldn’t be a barrier when it comes to working from home.

The Connected Futures report by the National Infrastructure Commission earlier this year revealed that the UK ranked 54th in the world for 4G coverage, so it comes as no surprise that the UK’s broadband services are also lacking. The UK isn’t included in the Fibre-to-the-Home (FTTH) Council Europe country rankings, which is dedicated to “accelerat[ing] the availability of fibre-based, ultra-high-speed networks for the benefit of consumers and businesses”.

Broadband connections in the UK currently stand at 2% of all households; this is in comparison to 80% in countries like Spain. The Independent Networks Co-operative Association has recommended that the UK reaches this number by 2026.

The government has been criticised for the amount of cash generated for this initiative, which experts say requires closer to £1bn; the government has responded to this by suggesting it aims to raise this extra capital from private sector partners. It has also been accused of announcing this fund multiple times since the Autumn Statement to generate positive press, before finally launching it today.

At TSG we know how important connectivity is to the modern business. Whether you’re hosting conference calls through Skype for Business, calling colleagues or customers using your Gamma Horizon hosted telephony solution or simply offering a connected customer service, your broadband needs to be of the highest quality.

We hope this initiative helps many businesses take another step on the journey to digital transformation, and allows more workers and their organisations than ever to reap the benefits associated with working from home.