What will the Budget do for broadband?
The Budget once upon a time was a hush hush affair until the Chancellor announced the various elements in the speech to the House of Commons followed by a scrabble to check the detail in full speech and supporting documents, but as is common these days one of the newspapers The Telegraph has an exclusive.
The Telegraph is reporting and we will only know how accurate this is after the speech has finished but for now the word is that hundreds of millions of pounds will be put into installing superfast broadband in rural areas. It is not clear if this really means just superfast broadband or we are talking full fibre broadband which is still a common problem when policitics journalists write about broadband.
The figure of £250 million is mentioned but this might just for delivering full fibre to schools and libraries across the UK, rather than bringing full fibre broadband to the more remote areas. Though as with the LFFN (Local Full Fibre Challenge Network) this is likely to be sold as keys and libraries being key anchor tennants that will in time mean residential properties will benefit. Yes, we have jumped from talking about rural areas to just schools and libraries such is the imprecise nature of what has been published so far.
The key anchor approach is the one favoured by CityFibre, so before everyone complains that this is going to be more money to pay the bonus of a BT CEO they will need to see how the funding will work.
One of the biggest challenges will be ensuring that any new money for FTTP in schools is not simply used by schools to eject an existing leased line provider for a cheaper service who is new to the area.
One concern is that this may not be new money but be a large slice of the previously mentioned £1 billion of funding to encourage construction of more full fibre networks across the UK.
Perhaps we will be suprised this afternoon and there will be a full fibre BDUK type process started that will attempt to identify those areas that would always be likely to miss out on purely commercial roll-out of full fibre broadband and rather than wait until 2025 to start this process the Chancellor wants to start today.