UK set to fall short of next generation broadband and 5G promises

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The UK Government is expected to fall short of targets for the rollout of gigabit broadband and 5G networks, members of the Culture select committee claim.

As has been the theme of his premiership to date, UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson appears to have over-promised and under-delivered, and will be forced to backtrack on the promise to deliver gigabit internet to 85% of the UK by 2025.

The revelation comes hot on the heels of another climb down that saw the Government dilute its original pledge to deliver gigabit connection to the entire country in the same time frame.

It is also thought that dithering over a decision on whether to include certain high-risk suppliers in the UK 5G network has jeopardized 2027 deployment targets. With suppliers such as Chinese firm Huawei now banned, the process could take up to three additional years.

The committee chair, Julian Knight, claimed the failures will damage Johnson’s credibility and compared the Government’s handling of the situation to “marching industry up to the top of the hill, and marching them back down again.”

The committee's verdict will be unwelcome news for many stakeholders, including businesses and their newly remote employees, whose ability to work effectively is hampered by patchy internet connection.

In light of the findings, ministers have been pressed to explain how they arrived at the 85% figure and to confirm when the remaining 15% of the country can expect to receive access to a gigabit connection.

£5 billion gigabit broadband plan

The Government has offered some clarity, however, with a new report that sets out the next steps in its £5 billion strategy to deliver next generation broadband.

According to the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS), a procurement process has begun in relation to the delivery of gigabit broadband to one million premises in the hardest to reach 20% of the UK by 2025. 

Up to 26 regions of England are thought to require government subsidy to incentivize broadband providers to invest in delivering gigabit broadband to the most remote 40,000 to 80,000 homes and businesses in each area.

The DCMS also stated that the Government would work closely with the Devolved Administrations in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland to ensure the greatest possible coverage across the UK.

“Today we’ve set out a bold programme of national infrastructure projects to future-proof the UK’s internet networks so we can build back better from coronavirus and create new jobs and economic opportunities,” said Matt Warman, Minister for Digital Infrastructure.

“We will begin these procurements rapidly so broadband providers big and small can move quickly to get the job done and level up communities with this much faster, next generation broadband.”

Via The Telegraph

Joel Khalili
News and Features Editor

Joel Khalili is the News and Features Editor at TechRadar Pro, covering cybersecurity, data privacy, cloud, AI, blockchain, internet infrastructure, 5G, data storage and computing. He's responsible for curating our news content, as well as commissioning and producing features on the technologies that are transforming the way the world does business.