Anna Wood, Editor of Showhome, investigates the Government’s plans to ensure Gigabit capable broadband for all
The internet, in this day and age, is the key to everything, and has become the centre of society. Spending a day away from the internet is an almost impossible task for most people, especially when so much in the modern age requires a broadband connection to work as intended. From streaming television shows, to playing video games, to ensuring the smart devices around a home remain in working order, an internet connection is a necessity in ensuring a smooth operating household. Not only that, but the majority of sectors now fully rely on technology to work. In offices with slow broadband, work takes longer to upload and send, and important video call meetings can be plagued by constant buffering. Fast internet connections can make the difference between productivity, and a constant battle of waiting for uploads, and can string out a video conference for over double the time it was intended.
Unfortunately, not everyone has access to a stable, good quality internet connection, especially in hard-to-reach areas that are often not as advanced in the quality of broadband speed available to them. Depending on the area of the country a person lives, as well as how rurally located they may be, the speed and strength of broadband speed can vastly differ. For years, rural areas have faced slower broadband speeds than the majority of the country. It is estimated that 35% of rural areas in the UK still lack superfast broadband, and of those, 17% of people who live in rural areas have to wait through download speeds of less than 10mbps during peak times of internet use. A House of Commons report estimated that 1.3 million premises in the UK did not have access to superfast download speeds as of September 2021. On top of this, according to Ofcom, some 123,000 UK premises still can’t access a decent fixed broadband service at this point in time.
For years, the UK Government has introduced many different targets to roll out reliable, accessible broadband in the country. Through different Prime Ministers, different targets have been announced, and edited, and adapted, and more recently, the Government have announced a brand-new initiative with Project Gigabit. Within the “Levelling Up the United Kingdom” White Paper, the Government expressed a whole new target for broadband connectivity, along with ideas on how this can be achieved. The White Paper states “By 2030, the UK will have nationwide gigabit-capable broadband and 4G coverage, with 5G coverage for the majority of the population”. In response to a question the Parliament received following the release of the White Paper, the Department for Levelling Up stated they were still committed to reach 85% of properties by 2025. So then this means that the 2030 target would effectively be for the final 15% of premises in the country.
To strengthen their target of rolling out gigabit broadband nationwide by 2030, at the beginning of this year, the Government brought in new laws and legislations to ensure that this target could be reached by their goal of 2030. This law is making it compulsory for housebuilder and developers to ensure that new build homes are built with gigabit enabled connections, and makes sure that telecoms firms are able to get faster internet to people who are living in blocks of flats, as these are often difficult to access. Ministers amended the Building Regulations 2010 to ensure that new homes built in England are fitted with infrastructure and connections capable of delivering gigabit broadband. Gigabit-capable broadband means download speeds of at least one gigabit per second, or to make it simpler, one gigabit is the same as 1000 megabits. According to an analysis conducted by thinkbroadband in November 2022, 72% of the UK is available to be fitted with gigabit broadband…
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