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Budget relegates the infrastructure that can support growth to page 15
Wednesday 20 March 2013 13:51:59 by Andrew Ferguson

After some of the excitement over the Urban Broadband Fund in the last few Budget statements, there is very little to bring cheer or excitement at the infrastructure level this time around.

A short nod was made during the speech by the current Chancellor George Osborne to broadband with a line 'Government is giving the UK the fastest broadband and telephony in Europe'. Apart from that there was no other mentions, the only mention is buried on page 15 of 17 on the Infrastructure Delivery Update which was published alongside Budget 2013.

4G mobile auction and rollout

  • 4G spectrum auction resulted in licences awarded to five companies on 1 March 2013.
  • Services using this spectrum expected to be launched from early summer 2013.

Rural mobile coverage (Mobile Infrastructure Project)

  • Intend to appoint contractor in early May and have first sites operational in 2013.
  • Rolling out rapidly thereafter, with aim of completion by 2015.

Fixed broadband investment – private and public

  • Commercial roll-out of superfast broadband covering approximately 100,000 additional premises per week.
  • Approximately 15 local broadband projects representing more than 50 per cent of the total programme budget are now under way.
  • All project contracts are expected to be in place by end summer 2013.

Urban broadband fund – Super connected cities

  • Following on from the announcement that ten cities had been selected as part of Wave 1 at the March 2012 budget, a further twelve cities were announced as part of Wave 2 of the programme at the Autumn Statement on 5 December 2012.
  • The £150 million programme is scheduled to deliver ultrafast broadband coverage to households and businesses in high growth areas as well as high-speed wireless broadband by 2015.
  • A number of cities are proceeding with procurement whilst Leeds-Bradford has already completed a related wireless service.
Extract from Infrastructure delivery update

So no new changes, or extra funding as some thought may happen. Crucially while some sectors of the economy received a longer term focus, broadband infrastructure which underpins the growing digital economy still has a plan that largely runs out in 2015.

Comments

Posted by AndrueC over 4 years ago
I wonder if some people will /still/ think that we'd be better off nationalising BT after this? It seems to me that the message is clear. The commercial sector (BT) and outside organisations (the EU) are doing more for broadband UK than the government ever has or is planning to.
Posted by ValueforMoney over 4 years ago
On balance your right given spectrum auctions, lack of fibre transition plan, but

BDUK/LA/DA is now £1.4bn fund, with only BT benefitting. Perhaps with Fujitu gone, BT can begin to be transparent with its costs so Gov can confidently state the taxpayer will get value for money for rural monies.

UBF could be used to trigger a pro-competitive transiiton to fibre access, but as nothing in Ofcom action plan 2013 and nothing in the Ofcom WLA/WBA reviews- but Ofcom can only look 4 years out.

Gov could do more, but there is no consensus, Cities can change this if they state their ambitions.
Posted by ValueforMoney over 4 years ago
If UBF was used to create that consensus, then incentives of £300-£500m a year could be orchestrated to attract more investment. It is at least 15 years, not the 4 years ofcom looks at.
Posted by GMAN99 over 4 years ago
Whoever wins should be transparent about the costs regardless?

And how is it only BT benefiting? Aren't we forgetting the people (end users) that will use the new infrastructure and obviously other ISP's that use the infrastructure.
Posted by ValueforMoney over 4 years ago
@GMAN99 Framework with Fujitsu must force BT to be conservative given wholesale obligations should it lose a contract.
sure and Gov - tax returns and animal tracking reports etc are the new universal services and GOV/la save money by delivering services online.

Sorry for being picky but BT keeps the assets and earns some marginal return. Scale of some county budgets would allow more Deddington like transfers, just a couple in each county to get things moving.

Posted by ValueforMoney over 4 years ago
@GMAM99 My view is that in this case more transparency would have led to more investment, (can still be announced quickly or the intent to do do), but the Framework assumed competition which the Communications Act says does not exist. Needs fixing.
Posted by fibrebunny over 4 years ago
I don't know who thought there would be extra funding this side of an election and spending review, with current spend allocated.

Still two years to run on the promise of jam tomorrow, what would be the incentive. There is none.
Posted by ValueforMoney over 4 years ago
@fibrebunny - significant and visible progess will have been made in rural, improved connectivity improves your property price - must be worth a few vites. I think there would be many votes and plenty of support if a start was made on a transition to all fibre access network. It needs triggering, rather than immense amounts of cash.
Posted by andrew (Favicon staff member) over 4 years ago
The problem is that the Openreach network is FTTH ready, hence why fibre on demand is appearing. They are building out about a third of the network from the exchange as part of the FTTC roll-outs.

So Openreach has started the transition already.
Posted by ValueforMoney over 4 years ago
@andrew - which is good, but a policy shift is needed to accelerate investment and competition in urban. The rural investment and the 4G coverage was politically led. It might take a Lord Mayor(s) to insist on bringing forward the changes needed, to stay in touch with EU and Asian cities. Much to argue through, so need to make a start.
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