New National Plan to bring ultra-fast broadband to almost all homes
At 1:20pm the Chancellor announced a new National Plan to bring ultra-fast broadband to almost all UK homes. The Chancellor has confirmed that ultra-fast means 100 Mbps connection speeds, but no information on what 'almost all' means or how this will be financed.
We should point out that previous investment announcements by Virgin Media will bring ultra-fast to two thirds of UK households, and even if Openreach was to just deploy to G.fast to cabinets around 45 to 50% of households would also see G.fast as an ultrafast option.
Update 1:40pmThe full text of the speech is available and the most relevant parts are reproduced below.
Supporting long-term investment in the UK’s digital communications infrastructure, including by setting out a new ambition that ultrafast broadband of at least 100 Megabits per second should be available to nearly all UK premises
The government will also take further action to support the delivery of broadband in rural areas, including looking to raise the Universal Service Obligation – the legal entitlement to a basic service – from dial-up speeds to 5 Mbps broadband, and subsidising the costs of installing superfast capable satellite services.
The broadband connection voucher scheme, extended at Autumn Statement 2014 to March 2016, will be available in a total of 50 cities by 1 April 2015.Broadband parts of 2015 Budget Speech
The change of the Universal Service Obligation from a mere 28 Kbps to 5 Mbps is a major change, but the excitement is tempered by the news that this may involve satellite broadband. The key to how excited is how much actual coverage will be aimed for via the new ultra-fast plan, and if its a minimum speed of 100 Mbps then it will be a large step change for many, but with no timescale or rough idea of what public money will be available we cannot make too many educated guesses at what may be delivered, beyond suggesting it may be a repeat of the superfast broadband project but with a higher speed goal.