Chancellor to pledge £1bn for digital infrastructure


Chancellor Philip Hammond will announce more than £1bn spending to support digital infrastructure in Wednesday’s Autumn statement, including speeding up the roll-out of ‘gold standard’ broadband.

In a statement, the Treasury said Mr Hammond will announce that the Government is investing £400m into a new Digital Infrastructure Investment Fund to boost commercial finance for emerging fibre broadband providers looking to scale up.

Officials said the new fund will be matched by private finance and ‘spur on the market to ramp-up its delivery of full-fibre broadband’.

The chancellor will also announce funding for further rollout of fibre broadband networks in partnership with local areas across the UK.

Philip Hammond makes his first Autumn Statement on Wednesday

The Treasury said that at least two million more homes and businesses could get access to gold standard ‘full-fibre’ broadband, which has the capacity to reach speeds of more than one gigabit per second.

It said that while the UK is a world leader in terms of superfast broadband coverage, the country is falling behind on the rollout of full-fibre, which replaces copper internet cables into the home and said to be more reliable and secure.

Only 2% of the country’s premises currently have access to full-fibre connections.

The Government will also fund a new programme of fibre and 5G trials – ‘the next wave of mobile technology’, the Treasury said.

At the weekend, the Treasury said the Autumn Statement will include an extra £1.3bn to improve Britain’s roads and public transport, including backing for an expressway connecting Oxford, Milton Keynes and Cambridge, and ‘billions’ for other infrastructure projects.


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