The first stage of a 200 million scheme to help bring the UKs fastest and most reliable broadband to businesses, schools and hospitals kicks off today (Sunday 3 September) with the launch of six local pilots.
The projects will get around 10 million to test innovative ways of connecting offices and public sector buildings with the next generation of broadband - full fibre networks that run fibre connections straight to the doors of customers homes or businesses.
The result is an incredibly reliable connection that can offer speeds of 1 Gigabit (1,000 Mbps.) The multimillion-pound investment means test projects will now go ahead in Aberdeen and Aberdeenshire, West Sussex, Coventry and Warwickshire, Bristol and Bath & North East Somerset, West Yorkshire and Greater Manchester.
Todays announcement is the first step in a 200 million programme. Unveiled by the Chancellor, Philip Hammond, at Spring Budget, it is part of the governments four-year plan to stimulate the market and encourage the growth of full fibre up and down the country.
The Exchequer Secretary to the Treasury, Andrew Jones MP, said:
How we live and work today is directly affected by how good our broadband connection is. Reliable connections enable new industries to flourish, help create jobs and give people flexibility in how and where they work.
For our economy to thrive, it is vital we make smart investments to ensure our digital infrastructure is world class and fit for the future.
Full fibre connections are the gold standard and we are proud to announce today the next step to get Britain better connected.
Minister of State for Digital, Matt Hancock MP, said:
We want to see more commercial investment in the gold standard connectivity that full fibre provides, and these innovative pilots will help create the right environment for this to happen. To keep Britain as the digital world leader that it is, we need to have the right infrastructure in place to allow us to keep up with the rapid advances in technology now and in the future.
The cutting-edge technology will make internet access more secure and enable more people to work remotely without disruption, as well as equipping the UKs homes, businesses and public services for applications of the future.
Full fibre broadband could potentially allow:
hospitals to share HD quality graphics of medical scans in seconds to improve diagnosis speeds
businesses to reach ever more customers online, increasing transactions by uploading even the largest files quickly and easily
school classrooms to see a vast increase the number of pupils who can stream educational videos at the same time
This comes hot on the heels of the Digital Infrastructure Investment Fund announced in July, as well as new legislation to enable business rates relief for new fibre. Unlocking more than 1 billion for full fibre broadband, the fund has ignited interest from private finance to invest in the sector.
Notes to editors:
The remaining 190 million will be spent by 2020-21.
This programme comes as part of the governments 23 billion National Productivity Investment Fund aimed at improving productivity, which is key to raising living standards. This fund has already earmarked 740 million specifically for improving Britains digital infrastructure, ensuring the UK is match-fit for the future.
the decision to proceed with the 6 pilots follows the governments call for evidence on extending local fibre networks. The government received 125 submissions from communications providers, local bodies and other interested parties
also published today is the Broadband Connection Voucher Scheme Impact and Benefits Study, which reports on the outcomes of the governments broadband connection voucher scheme that ran between 2014 and 16 as part of the SuperConnected Cities initiative