British chancellor Philip Hammond has announced plans to create a National Productivity Investment Fund (NPIF), alongside which the government intends to invest over GBP1 billion (USD1.2 billion) in full-fibre broadband and the trialling of 5G networks.
As part of Mr Hammond’s Autumn Statement, it has been confirmed that the state expects to invest GBP1 billion by 2020/21, including GBP740 million through the NPIF which will be ‘targeted at supporting the market to roll out full-fibre connections and future 5G communications’, with the government saying it hopes such expenditure will ‘bring faster and more reliable broadband for homes and businesses across the UK, boost the next generation of mobile connectivity and keep the UK in the forefront of the development of the Internet of Things.’
In order to achieve such targets, a total of GBP400 million is being pledged towards the rollout of pure fibre services via a new Digital Infrastructure Investment Fund, with that figure to be at least matched by private finance. In addition, there will also be a new 100% business rates relief for new full-fibre infrastructure for a five-year period from 1 April 2017. Meanwhile, with a view to providing funding to support investment in a much bigger fibre ‘spine’ across the UK, the government has said it will work in partnership with local areas, and a call for evidence on delivery approaches is to be published shortly. Finally, in terms of providing funding for a coordinated programme of integrated fibre and 5G trials, further details regarding this area of investment are expected to be revealed when the government’s spring budget is outlined in March 2017.