Procurement · 4 September 2017

£10m broadband pilot set to hand small firms full-fibre connections in six areas

Business owners in six UK regions could benefit from broadband speeds of 1,000Mps
Business owners in six UK regions could benefit from broadband speeds of 1,000Mps

The first stage of the government’s £200m broadband project has been announced, promising to deliver full-fibre connectivity to business owners in six UK regions.

Each project will take a share of an initial £10m set aside to test different ways of connecting business premises and public sector buildings with full-fibre broadband networks. The government has guaranteed the broadband pilot will deliver connection speeds of 1,000 Mbps, or one gigabit.

The multi-million pound scheme will see test projects undertaken in Aberdeen and Aberdeenshire, West Sussex, Coventry and Warwickshire, Bristol and Bath & North East Somerset, West Yorkshire and Greater Manchester.

An official government statement specifically championed the potential benefits to small ecommerce businesses of a super-fast broadband connection, helping founders reach more customers online and to increase transactions by allowing faster uploads for large files.

The broadband pilot represents the first stage of a £200m investment programme initially announced by chancellor Philip Hammond in the Spring Budget – a four-year plan to ensure full fibre internet connections in each corner of Britain.

Commenting on the announcement, the government’s digital minister, Matt Hancock, said the broadband investment project would help UK businesses remain part of a “digital world leader”.

“We want to see more commercial investment in the gold standard connectivity that full fibre provides, and these innovative pilots will help create the right environment for this to happen,” Hancock said.

“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.”

Meanwhile, exchequer secretary to the Treasury, Andrew Jones, said the investment in infrastructure would “enable new industries to flourish, help create jobs and give people flexibility in how and where they work”.

He added: “For our economy to thrive, it is vital we make smart investments to ensure our digital infrastructure is world class and fit for the future.

Full fibre connections are the gold standard and we are proud to announce today the next step to get Britain better connected.”

The remaining £190m will be allocated by 2021, the government said.

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Simon Caldwell is deputy editor at Business Advice. He has a BA in politics and communications from the University of Liverpool, and has previously worked as a content editor in local government and the ecommerce industry.


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