The UK government has allocated £200 million to deploy full fibre broadband to hard-to-reach areas across the country in what it called an “outside-in” approach to connectivity.
The Rural Gigabit Connectivity Programme will allow trial models for local hubs in rural areas such as primary schools that would otherwise never have had access to high-quality broadband.
The rural funding, which comes from the National Productivity Investment Fund, will also provide a voucher scheme for in order to fund full-fibre connectivity to nearby homes and businesses.
“Through our modern industrial strategy it’s our ambition to have a full fibre Britain that is fit for the future,” said DCMS Secretary of State Jeremy Wright.
“By changing our approach and investing in the hardest to reach places first, we will ensure that the whole country can reap the benefits of full fibre broadband.”
Government will also test new approaches to fibre rollout in rural areas of the country, staring with the Borderlands, Cornwall, and the Welsh Valleys.
Rural funding follows the Future Telecoms Infrastructure Review (FTIR), announced in July this year, which outlines plans to get the country’s broadband infrastructure up to speed for the future.
The FTIR proposes changes needed to give most of the UK’s population access to 5G and provide full fibre broadband across all of the UK by 2033.
Rural Funding: Mandatory Full Fibre for New Homes
Government is also making full fibre mandatory for new build homes, saying that sites with poor or no connections are “inexcusable”, hamper innovation, and adversely affect small businesses based in homes.
Minister for Digital Margot James said: “Too many new build homes are built with slow, or no, connections. This needs to change. Making full fibre mandatory for new builds will help us meet our ambitious broadband goals, connect people and places, and strengthen our digital society.”
Government has opened consultations on how developers and network operators should share the costs of connecting new builds; the introduction of a “duty to connect” provision on operators; and amending building regulations to make sure new buildings have the necessary infrastructure in place.
A boost for regional broadband was tipped to be a big part of the Autumn Budget, delivered on Monday by Chancellor of the Exchequer Philip Hammond.
“For the 21st century broadband is to roads in the 20th, railways in the 19th, and canals in the 18th,” he had told the Telegraph.
Tim Breitmeyer, president of the CLA membership organisation for owners of land, property and businesses in rural England and Wales, said of the rural funding: “Although this is very welcome cash for rural broadband, the government has still missed an opportunity to incorporate 4G mobile connectivity into its plans to improve rural economic growth.
“Mobile network operators have abandoned the countryside by failing to resolve poor signal and not-spots.
“Introducing a single rural mobile phone network to deliver better and faster 4G coverage would prove the Government is serious about its ambition to connect the countryside.”