A £200m scheme to help bring the country’s “fastest and most reliable broadband” to UK businesses, schools and hospitals is underway, the government said at the weekend.
The plan centres on six local pilots in Aberdeen and Aberdeenshire, West Sussex, Coventry and Warwickshire, Bristol and Bath & North East Somerset, West Yorkshire and Greater Manchester.
These projects will get money on offer from the government to test innovative ways of connecting offices and public sector buildings with the next generation of broadband, which it defies as “full fibre networks that run fibre connections straight to the doors of customers’ homes or businesses”.
The result, GOV.UK says somewhat breathlessly, could be “an incredibly reliable connection” that can offer speeds of 1 Gigabit (1,000 Mbps).
The money isn’t new – it’s the first step in a scheme announced in the Spring Budget and is part of the government’s four-year plan to stimulate the market and encourage the growth of full fibre up and down the country.
Neither is all the money being spent at once – only £10m is being ponied up for these pilots, with the government saying the remaining £190m will be spent between now and 2020-21.
This programme is part of the government’s £23bn National Productivity Investment Fund aimed at improving productivity and which has already earmarked £740m specifically for improving Britain’s digital infrastructure, ensuring the UK is “match-fit for the future”.
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So quite a lot of hyperbole, arguably – but nonetheless, for Exchequer Secretary to the Treasury, Andrew Jones MP, “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.”
“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,” added Minister of State for Digital Matt Hancock.
“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 UK’s homes, businesses and public services for applications of the future.”