The government is to release £400m towards full-fibre broadband in its Autumn Statement tomorrow, part of its Digital Infrastructure Investment Fund.
The cash is to be matched by private finance, and will amount to a total cash pot of £800m. In a press release the government described it as "gold standard ‘full-fibre’ broadband, which has the capacity to reach speeds of more than 1Gbps."
The Department for Culture, Media and Sport illustrated the point by comparing it to downloading an entire series of Game of Thrones in less than a minute.
Only 2 per cent of the country’s premises currently have access to full-fibre connections. Digital minister Matt Hancock has already said the full-fibre and 5G are the future.
However, he previously indicated the government would not be releasing subsidies similar to those provided in its 24Mbps superfast broadband scheme – all of which went to BT.
Talk of a government investment fund intended to spur investment by smaller "alternative network providers" has been around since the last Autumn Statement. But Malcolm Corbett, chief exec of the Independent Networks Cooperative Association (INCA), said the total amount was twice what had been anticipated.
He said the new fund was aimed spurring investment by smaller providers focused on pure fibre and wasn't intended as a repeat of the Broadband Delivery UK scheme, which saw all the funds go to BT.
INCA has previously called for government support to reach 80 per cent FTTP by 2026.
Corbett said: "We welcome the Chancellor's support. The Altnets are the entrepreneurial companies and communities building new, future-proofed, pure fibre and wireless networks.
"They are doing a fantastic job and the Chancellor's support signals that Government is serious about creating a more competitive environment for new digital infrastructure."
Chancellor Philip Hammond is also expected to announce funding for further rollout of fibre broadband networks, in partnership with local areas across the UK.
In addition the government will fund a programme of fibre and 5G trials. The government has also earmarked a further £740m for 5G trials. ®