UK confirms digital connectivity targets
February 3, 2022
By Colin Mann
The UK Government has reaffirmed its intention to ensure that by 2030, the UK will have nationwide gigabit-capable broadband and 4G coverage, with 5G coverage for the majority of the population.
The commitments are contained in a White Paper, Levelling Up the United Kingdom, which sets out the next stages in a programme to level up the UK, ending geographical inequalities.
“We will enhance digital connectivity through Project Gigabit and the Shared Rural Network so that by 2030, the UK Government and private sector will deliver nationwide gigabit-capable broadband and 4G coverage, with 5G coverage for the majority of the population,” says the Government, noting that it has committed £5 billion for Project Gigabit to bring gigabit-capable broadband to 85 per cent of the UK by 2025, and the £1 billion Shared Rural Network deal with mobile operators delivering 4G coverage to 95 per cent of the UK by the end of 2025.
According to the Government, the COVID-19 pandemic demonstrated the importance of digital infrastructure right across society, from ensuring business continuity to reducing isolation. “Improved digital connectivity has the potential to drive growth and productivity across the UK and widen job opportunities through remote working. However, there are significant spatial disparities in the quality of broadband and mobile networks, with rural areas likely to experience worse digital connectivity than urban areas. Infrastructure is only part of the picture: economic benefits will only materialise if businesses and workers have the skills to take advantage of improved infrastructure,” it states.
In 2020, the UK Government published the National Infrastructure Strategy, committing to providing £5 billion in public funding to roll out gigabit broadband to at least 85 per cent of the country by 2025, and subsequently to as close to 100 per cent as possible, working with the private sector. “Public investment will target premises that are hardest to reach and which would otherwise not be provided for by the private sector, ensuring no areas are left behind. Gigabit coverage has increased from 10 per cent to over 60 per cent in less than two years,” it notes.