Ultra-fast £190m broadband fund up for grabs
The government says it will distribute £190m of funding to help the roll-out of ultra-fast broadband across the UK.
Public bodies will now be able to apply for a share of the money, which is part of a £1bn fund first announced in 2016.
The aim is to offer speeds of up to 1Gbps to households and businesses with “full fibre” broadband.
However, critics have said the fund is a “drop in the ocean” compared with what it might cost to make full fibre the norm across the country.
Full fibre connections deliver faster internet speeds for consumers and businesses, by running fibre-optic cables directly to homes and offices.
Fibre-to-the-cabinet connections rely on copper cables for the “final mile” between the roadside cabinet and the home.
At present, full fibre is available to only about one million premises, representing about 2% penetration. That contrasts with Spain, where the figure is 80%.
The Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport wants local authorities, local enterprise partnerships and other public bodies to apply for a share of the fund.
Although many households and organisations do not currently need 1Gbps speeds – consumers need only 3Mbps to watch the BBC iPlayer in high definition, for example – the idea is to provide a “future-proof” solution.
“If you’re a business, fibre is already available to you, as long as your pockets are deep enough,” said Andrew Ferguson, editor of thinkbroadband.com.
“Full fibre becomes more expensive in outlying business parks and rural areas, so this is improving the viability of full fibre.”