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Will the UK achieve gigabit broadband by 2025?

Posted 11 Jan 2021

One of the key promises may by the government during the last election was to ensure that everyone across the UK had access to superfast broadband. Whilst more than 95% of the UK can access speeds of up to 30 Mbs, there are concerns that 1.6 million premises (predominantly in rural areas) are still being affected bypoor connectivity. 

The government aims to offer gigabit broadband nationwide by 2025. However, there are fears this could leave rural areas behind. Lucid Systems are based in Suffolk, they explain what this could mean for businesses working in rural areas

The UK has set an ambitious target to ensure that everyone can benefit from nationwide gigabit (1000Mbps) broadband connectivity by 2025. This would guarantee that everyone would have access to superfast broadband, and with more businesses than ever before having to work remotely, it is clear that this should be a priority for The Department for Digital, Culture, Media & Sport.

However, a report (Improving Broadband) published by the Public Accounts Committee has suggested that the plans are currently “unreachable.” The report has suggested that there are many barriers in place which could prevent the rollout of the project, with key issues including building requirements, consumer choice, and the centralisation of the project.

Why is superfast broadband so important?

We live in an online world where fast, reliable internet connectivity is imperative for the smooth running of businesses and day-to-day life. Whilst those living in urban areas may be used to superfast internet connections, there are still known issues for people and businesses living in rural areas. As a Suffolk-based IT support service with clients across large towns and cities (such as Ipswich, Colchester, and Norwich), we understand the intricacies and differences in internet capabilities in different areas. 

The coronavirus pandemic has shown how important it is for everyone to have access to fast broadband. With many businesses forced to operate remotely (and likely to remain working from home for the foreseeable future), having access to fast broadband speeds is vital to ensure that employees can work as effectively as possible.

What are the issues affecting the rollout of the project?

When it comes to full-fibre connectivity, the UK lags behind many European countries. A significant part of the gigabit broadband rollout is to ensure that the infrastructure is in place to provide the fast speeds.

Currently, most broadband connectivity in the UK is provided by ‘Fibre to the Cabinet’ (FTTC) – this is where fibre optic cables run to a street cabinet, and copper wires connect the cabinet to individual properties and business premises. To facilitate the gigabit broadband, infrastructure needs to be put into place to enable ‘Fibre to the Premises’ – also known as FTTP. This is where the fibre technology connects directly to properties. However, issues such as planning permission, building requirements (such as working with listed properties), and high business rates for fibre connectivity are hindering the progress, making it unlikely that the rollout will be completed by the 2025 deadline.  

We recently wrote about how fast broadband is currently being rolled out across Ipswich. Whilst it’s exciting to see how our local businesses and our local communities will benefit, it is a concern that the overall plans to roll out gigabit broadband are hitting numerous issues.

Is the gigabit broadband rollout likely to meet the 2025 target?

Blog graphic outlining some of the reasons why rural areas may be left behind when it comes to business broadband. Lucid Systems who are based in Suffolk explain how they can help those living in rural areas benefit from business broadband

According to the report published by the Public Accounts Committee (PAC), it is extremely unlikely that the 2025 target will be met. 

The government is relying upon the IT industry to deliver the rollout and there have been funding issues, as well as using a centralised system rather than working with local authorities to use local knowledge and expertise to help facilitate the rollout. There are also concerns that the plans do not consider consumer choice. There’s a risk that consumer broadband providers “may not find it commercially attractive to offer their services over many different networks and that consumers, particularly in rural areas, could be left with limited choice.

At present, the government has now scaled back its ambition from 100% completion in 2025 to a minimum of 85%. Within this, the PAC reports that there’s still no cohesive plan in place to ensure that those living in rural areas (and currently unable to access fast broadband speeds) are prioritised, which could run the risk of leaving them behind.

Lucid Systems can help businesses have the best connectivity for their needs

Whilst we wait for the national full fibre connectivity to be rolled out, we are continuing to work closely with our clients to ensure that you have the right broadband connectivity for your needs.

Our understanding of your corporate IT infrastructure means that we know exactly what type of connection works best for your business. We can install failover lines to prevent unexpected downtime. We can check that your routers, switches, and firewalls are all in place. And if you need a long-lasting infrastructure that uses fibre optic cabling, then we can install fibre leased lines directly to your business premises.  

We work with clients to find the most appropriate solution for your needs, and we build lasting resilience into all of our business broadband services. We can even support your staff as they work from home, helping them to diagnose any connectivity problems that they may be having with their personal broadband packages. 

If you work in a rural part of Suffolk, Norfolk or Essex and you’re looking for a more effective business broadband connection then please get in touch

by Amy Dawson