20 September 2017
The first stage of a £200m scheme that promises to help bring the UK’s fastest and most reliable broadband to businesses, schools and hospitals kicked off on 3 September with the launch of six pilots.
Test projects will go ahead in: Aberdeen and Aberdeenshire; West Sussex; Coventry and Warwickshire; Bristol, Bath and North East Somerset; West Yorkshire; and Greater Manchester. They will get around £10m to assess ways of connecting offices and public sector buildings using FTTP with speeds of 1Gb.
The pilot projects are the first step in a £200m, four-year government programme to stimulate the market and encourage the nationwide growth of full fibre. The remaining £190m will be spent by 2020-21.
The government says the decision to proceed with the six pilots follows its call for evidence on extending local fibre networks. It adds that 125 submissions from communications providers, local bodies and other interested parties were received.
“How we live and work today is directly affected by how good our broadband connection is,” says Andrew Jones, exchequer secretary to the Treasury. “Reliable connections enable new industries to flourish, help create jobs and give people flexibility in how and where they work.”
Meanwhile, digital minister Matt Hancock hopes that the six pilot projects will help create the right environment for more commercial investment in the hyperfast connectivity that full fibre provides. He says: “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.”