Digital Infrastructure Fund

BtL are pleased to confirm the Treasury’s intention to provide £1bn to support the roll-out of pure fibre and 5G infrastructure as outlined in the Chancellor of the Exchequer’s Autumn Statement 2016.

It includes £400m dedicated to a digital infrastructure investment fund (DIF) which aims to increase commercial financing for emerging fibre broadband providers that are looking to scale to meet growing demand.

The Autumn statement has been welcomed by the Minister of State for Digital and Culture, who has signalled his belief that gigabit speeds and pure fibre optic connectivity are the future.

While the DIF will constitute around £400m, it is expected that the private sector will more than match this. It’s hoped that the total public and private investment could reach up to £1.5bn over the lifetime of the scheme which will run until 2021.

Currently, only 2% of the UK has access to what’s been referred to as gold standard full-fibre broadband. This is roughly 35 times faster than the 28.9Mbps average UK speed internet connection according to OFCOM.

So far, most of the public money invested in broadband infrastructure has gone to BT, whose strategy has been to roll out fibre to the roadside cabinet, not to the home.

However, some alternative providers are smaller but aiming to implement the gold standard full fibre broadband.

BtL’s gigabit city launch partner CityFibre, a provider of super-fast broadband (gold standard full fibre broadband), has welcomed the Chancellor’s support and the opportunity to accelerate the deployment of fibre and 5G to homes and businesses alike.

BtL supports increased funding in this area, stressing that Britain’s industrial strategy needs a strong digital backbone that can help to plug the UK’s ‘Fibre Gap’ and empower our service based economy.

As avid promoters of CityFibre, the Autumn Statement is a breath of fresh air. CityFibre’s ambition is to expand to 100 cities by 2025, and the Statement provides reassurance that CityFibre is moving in the right direction and will achieve its goal. The 100-city target will allow CityFibre to deliver pure fibre connectivity to 60% of the UK. Following the government’s autumn statement, BtL is now even more confident of this target becoming a reality.