October 1, 2019

Our gigabit rural broadband plan for the UK

Investment in rural broadband is vital. Broadband is not just essential for businesses across the United Kingdom, but it also makes areas more attractive places to live and work. High quality broadband also helps rejuvenate otherwise more isolated communities that feel left behind.

That’s why we are committing £5 billion to support spreading broadband to the hardest-to-reach 20% of the country. We want everyone in the UK to benefit from world-class connectivity no matter where they live, work or travel. So this commitment will deliver fast broadband to everyone – and help communities everywhere prosper.

What is gigabit broadband?

Gigabit internet is the next generation of broadband internet service, providing lightning-quick connections over fibre optic lines. Gigabit broadband provides online speeds of 1,000Mbps, or 1 Gbps. Hence it is commonly referred to as “gigabit internet” or “gigabit broadband”.

Standard broadband is roughly 2Mbps to 8 Mbps, while ‘superfast’ broadband begins at roughly 30Mbps. While this was good enough in the past, now many experts see gigabit broadband as the current benchmark for businesses to prosper in a modern economy like the UK's.

Almost 40 times faster than superfast broadband, gigabit speeds will benefit families who stream TV across the UK and support businesses stay online and navigate the web quickly.

How we’re providing gigabit broadband

We are investing £5 billion to support rollout in the hardest to reach 20% of the country – doubling our previous commitment to support rollout to the hardest 10%.

This investment will provide bespoke solutions to the 20% hardest-to-reach areas so they are not left behind. And we will rollout this gigabit broadband under a dramatically faster timetable than previously planned.

This will benefit the UK's 5.6 million small and medium sized businesses, improving their productivity and ensuring they are not held back by poor infrastructure. Small and medium sized businesses account for 60% of private sector employment and over 50% of business revenues. Even more than residential consumers, they require fast and reliable broadband.

We have a strong record delivering high-speed rural broadband

We are providing the basis for our ambitious gigabit broadband plans by unlocking over £1 billion investment into the technology which underpins it. We are additionally supporting competitive commercial investment into full fibre through the £400 million Digital Infrastructure Investment Fund. This is expected to unlock over £1 billion in public and private investment in full fibre technologies.

This is on top of our 2025 full fibre target

Today’s announcement is only about government support for the hardest-to-reach premises. But it underlines our determination that every household in the UK should have access to gigabit broadband and puts real money behind it. These are all positive steps and over the next few months, we will work to dramatically speed up the rollout of fast, reliable and secure broadband and get gigabit speeds right across the UK.

CityFibre, Hyperoptic and Openreach are all making significant announcements to deploy full fibre in a number of towns and cities across the UK as well as new entrants also entering the market. Now, we’re seeing full fibre coverage increase faster than ever thanks to the work we and businesses have put in.

Labour would wreck our economy and drive out crucial investment

The CBI has already warned that investment would flee the country if Labour’s “toxic” plans to take broadband back under state control were put in place. Without private sector investment, there would be far less innovation in areas such as broadband, less tax revenue to fund government investment, and other serious knock-on effects.

And Labour’s reckless approach to the economy would threaten the UK’s ability to properly fund a rural broadband policy that helps the hardest-to-reach communities in Britain.

We want to get Brexit done so we can move onto the people’s priorities. Labour will be engaged in an ideological battle that ultimately does not help this country deliver on the investment and broadband speeds rural communities need.