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The Department for Digital, Culture, Media & Sport commits to providing gigabit-capable broadband for over 80% of the UK by 2025.

In an announcement that comes as a boost to providers of hosted telephony, SIP trunking, and cloud-based SaaS solutions across the country, the UK governments Department for Digital, Culture, Media & Sport (DCMS) made the commitment in their March 2021 policy paper; ‘Project Gigabit: Phase One Delivery Plan’. While they have committed to a target of 85% gigabit-capable coverage by 2025, the plan is to accelerate rollout as close to 100% as possible.
The government wants to deliver nationwide coverage of gigabit-capable broadband as soon as possible and is making it clear that while they are investing over £5bn of government funding in the first phase of the project, they are reliant on the private sector to deliver gigabit connectivity to the most commercial 80% of the country by 2025.
With this in mind, the DCFS have announced their plans to encourage commercial investment, remove barriers to broadband deployment, and stimulate suppliers to go further into harder to reach areas by using subsidies. The paper provides detailed regional plans, with the first areas set to benefit being rural or hard to reach locations, with ‘levelling up’ a key driver.
Additionally, the Gigabit Broadband Voucher Scheme will also be relaunched across the UK with up to £210 million available to give people in eligible rural areas immediate financial help to get gigabit speeds. The new vouchers worth up to £1,500 for residents and up to £3,500 for businesses will go live on 8 April 2021, meaning rural areas won’t have to wait for supplier contracts under Project Gigabit to reach them. There will be an online postcode checker available so people can check if their home or business is eligible for a voucher.
On top of this the government is making up to £110 million available to connect public sector buildings – such as GP surgeries, libraries, and schools – in the hardest to reach parts of the UK. This is crucial because it will help GPs provide remote video consultations and allow whole classes of schoolchildren to be online at once without interruption – something that’s been challenging for many throughout the pandemic.
As recently as 12 months ago less than 10% of premises had access to gigabit broadband, with today’s figure already almost 40%. That increase has unlocked over 11 million homes and businesses across the country who can now enjoy the advantages of cutting-edge connectivity.

Ofcom announce changes to wholesale pricing regulations and Quality of Service standards to boost investment while protecting consumers.

Ofcom has also this month published the their Wholesale Fixed Telecoms Market Review 2021-26 (FTMR), which outlines strategies to boost UK investment in high-speed, high-capacity broadband services by removing some remaining roadblocks to investment and supporting competition between networks.
Highlights of this review include higher Quality of Service (QoS) required by Openreach on their consumer and leased line broadband services, meaning tougher regulation on their response to customer provisioning updates or service queries, as well as changes to regional pricing regulation designed to encourage competition. In areas where Openreach have one or less competitors, Ofcom will also maintain flat, inflation-adjusted, regulated prices for their entry-level 40Mbps (10Mbps upload) superfast broadband service.
For consumers this represents a good level of price protection, however for larger businesses, the only potential negative from Ofcom’s report is that it will not cap the wholesale prices fibre network operators can charge customers for access to their fastest available services, including those of Openreach. This is a recognition of the investment required by infrastructure providers and the need for them to recoup their costs.