The Government has a target of superfast broadband (speeds greater than 24Mbps) to 95% of premises by the end of 2017. The roll-out of superfast broadband is led by partnerships between local authorities and a delivery partner who will install the necessary infrastructure. For many partnerships this delivery partner is BT. The Library Briefing on Fixed Broadband: Policy and Speeds provides background on the superfast broadband roll-out programme.

The Institute of Directors (IoD) published a report on 29 February 2016 calling for a new target for households and business to have access to speeds of 10 gigabits per second (Gbps) by 2030.

The Ofcom Connected Nations Report  (1 December 2015) stated that while there have been improvements in superfast broadband availability, Small and Medium sized enterprises (SMEs) “experience poorer superfast availability compared to consumers as a whole” and noted that:

. Only 68% of SMEs have access to superfast broadband in the UK, compared to 85% of all premises; this

leaves over 400,000 SMEs without access to superfast broadband. Similarly, almost

a half of SMEs (around 130,000) in certain business areas are unable to receive

speeds above 10Mbit/s.

The Government announced a review into broadband provision for businesses on 24 February 2016. The review, led jointly by the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills and the Department for Culture, Media and Sport, will specifically look at increasing the level of affordable and high quality fibre broadband available to businesses.

The initial conclusions of Ofcom’s strategic review of digital communications were published on 25 February 2016. Its proposals include a “strategic shift to large-scale investment in fibre”. This will encourage the roll-out of fibre to the premises networks to homes and businesses and as part of this BT will be required to open up its network to other operators so they can lay fibre cables along telegraph poles and underground cable ducts. It also said Ofcom would work with Government to make access to decent, affordable broadband a universal right for every home and small business in the UK, starting at 10 Mbps.

The following links may be of interest:

Press releases

UK broadband ambition needs to be “a thousand times” higher

Institute of Directors 29 February 2016

Making Digital Communications Work for Everyone

OFCOM 25 February 2016

Business Secretary announces new business broadband review

DCMS 24 February 2016

News items

BT’s boss turns to fibre in effort to rule out spectre of separation from Openreach

Daily Telegraph 8 March 2016

Businesses call for faster UK broadband speeds

BBC Online 29 February 2016

Ofcom Openreach review: Industry reaction and analysis

IT Pro Portal 25 February 2016

Broadband roll-out will be slower if you break Openreach up, BT chief warns MPs in private letters

Daily Telegraph 12 February 2016

MP says BT needs to “get its act together” after employees are caught mocking report into its poor broadband services

The Northern Echo 25 January 2015

Millions with ‘dire’ internet service

Coalition of MPs calls for BT’s monopoly of broadband cable network to be broken up

Daily Telegraph 22 January 2016

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