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Government Pledges £1bn in Support for Fibre Competition

CityFibre welcomes the Treasury’s intention to unveil £1bn of support to accelerate the rollout of pure fibre and 5G infrastructure at the Chancellor’s Autumn Statement.

The aim of the funding, which will include £400m investment into a Digital Infrastructure Investment Fund, is to boost commercial finance for emerging fibre broadband providers looking to scale up. This is entirely aligned with CityFibre’s view that infrastructure competition is the only way for the UK to close its yawning fibre gap with other developed nations.

As the largest competitive investor in wholesale fibre infrastructure, CityFibre is already present in 40 towns and cities across the UK, including 25 of the top 30 cities outside London. With an ambition of expanding to 100 cities by 2025, this expanded footprint would allow CityFibre to deliver true fibre connectivity to 60% of the UK’s businesses and 40% of homes outside London.

The Company’s Fibre-to-the-Home (FTTH) trial with Sky and TalkTalk in York has demonstrated the critical role that its infrastructure plays in delivering FTTH faster and at lower cost. Additionally, the Company’s network in Hull enabled the UK’s first dark Fibre-to-the-Tower deployment, which underlines the role CityFibre can play in the 5G wireless rollout. Both FTTH and 5G connectivity can be extended across CityFibre’s 40 cities, demonstrating the pivotal role the Company will play in any national fibre deployment programme.

Greg Mesch, Chief Executive of CityFibre, commented,bn “As a pure fibre infrastructure pioneer and the company behind the UK’s growing ranks of Gigabit Cities, CityFibre welcomes the Chancellor’s support to accelerate the deployment of fibre and 5G to homes and businesses. Britain’s industrial strategy needs a digital backbone, and it is essential that we move quickly to plug the UK’s ‘fibre gap’ and empower our service-based economy. This new funding, stimulating competitive fibre rollout at scale by new communications infrastructure builders, is a catalyst for the delivery of the UK’s fibre future.”

“The Chancellor’s commitment to add £23bn of funding from the national budget to innovation and infrastructure projects is welcome and timely. If the UK is to remain competitive on an increasingly challenging global stage, it’s essential that businesses have access to the best connectivity and world-leading technology.

Simon Acott, business and partner development director at Exponential-e, commented “In order to boost the economy and ensure the country stays at the cutting edge, the government must ensure these new funds go towards a comprehensive overhaul of education and support programmes to encourage and enable flexible working practices, leveraging colocation based IT services to enable companies to communicate and work more quickly and efficiently, wherever they are in the country. As part of this, it will be key to ensure that emerging business hubs in cities outside the southeast have premium-level broadband in place to match London’s productivity.

“This pledge is a start but now the government must make good on its promise. High quality connectivity across the country is essential to sustained economic growth.”

Paul Shannon, COO at ANS Group, said “Technology is key to business productivity, it’s therefore great to see the government not only acknowledging this, but also investing a significant amount of money in fast, secure and reliable full fibre networks and connectivity solutions.

“We were pleased to see the government pledging to support businesses that provide disruptive technology. We hope that this promise, combined with the continuous commitment to invest in the Northern Powerhouse, will bolster the technology sector across the North of England and the UK as a whole.”

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David Dungay

Editor - Comms Business Magazine