On 5 November 2020, Baroness Barran, a Minister in the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, answered written questions on the Government’s progress towards their target of full-fibre, gigabit-capable broadband by 2025.
Her answer can be read in full below:
Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport
5 November 2020
Baroness Ritchie of Downpatrick (Non-affiliated): To ask Her Majesty’s Government whether they are on track to meet their target of full-fibre, gigabit-capable broadband by 2025.
Baroness Barran (Parliamentary Under Secretary of State): The Government remains committed to delivering nationwide gigabit connectivity as soon as possible. Our ambition is to deliver this by 2025. We recognise that this is a challenging ambition. We support industry’s plans to deliver gigabit broadband to the most commercial parts of the UK (c.80% of the country) and will continue to take action to remove barriers to deployment to help them deliver this by 2025.
Building Digital UK (BDUK) is currently in the process of mobilising the new £5 billion UK Gigabit Programme which was announced in the Spring Budget. Procurements will commence in 2021.
According to Thinkbroadband (https://labs.thinkbroadband.com/local/) as of 27 October, coverage at UK premises for different broadband speeds is currently:
- Superfast (30Mbps) = 96.50%
- Ultrafast (100Mbps) = 63.27%
- Gigabit (1,000Mbps) = 27.52%
- Full Fibre (Gigabit+) = 17.49%
Virgin Media are in the process of activating gigabit services across their entire network by the end of 2021, and this currently covers over 52% of the UK. BT Openreach and CityFibre also have multi-billion pound fibre rollout programmes underway so a leap in gigabit coverage during 2021 is anticipated. This planned build predominantly covers urban areas so DCMS’s focus is on stimulating build in the more rural and disadvantaged areas of the UK where the commercial market will not build unaided.
The government has invested significant amounts in digital infrastructure over the last decade. The DCMS portfolio of active projects is currently c.£4 billion (detailed below) and in the Spring Budget, a further £5 billion of investment was announced for the hardest to reach areas of the UK. More details regarding the programme will follow in the Autumn Spending Review.