In its Autumn Statement of funding priorities announced last week, the UK Government pledged more than £1 billion into 2021 to fund broadband network infrastructure deployment, including a healthy dose of fiber to the premises (FTTP).
The funding includes £740 million via a new National Productivity Investment Fund (NPIF) as well as £400 million from a new Digital Infrastructure Investment Fund (DIIF). The Government expects private sources to at least match the total in the DIIF.
The DIIF money will go directly to the deployment of fiber-optic broadband infrastructure over the next four years. The NPIF outlay will go toward both FTTP and 5G network rollouts. To further encourage the deployment of fiber networks, the Government also will grant 100% business rates relief for new all-fiber cable infrastructure deployments for a 5 year period that will begin April 1, 2017. The Government says it will also fund local efforts to create fiber-optic backbones to support broadband services provision.
The plan also calls for trials of integrated fiber and 5G networks.
The fiber/5G NPIF outlays break out as follows:
- 2017-18: £25 million
- 2018-19: £150 million
- 2019-20: £275 million
- 2010-20: £290 million.
As details of the funding plan leaked before the official announcement, service providers generally hailed the measures and reiterated their viewpoints on the current competitive landscape.
"We welcome the Government's announcement on broadband investment, which chimes with our view that the future is full fiber. Government has played its part through this package of measures, which should help kick start the investment needed to push the UK up the league table. But we won't achieve the necessary step change in driving full fibre investment across the country unless Ofcom also takes bold and decisive action on the future of BT Openreach," said Andrew Griffith, Sky's group COO in a prepared statement by way of example.
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