THE UK GOVERNMENT has named the six areas of the UK that have been selected to trial 1Gbps fibre broadband speeds as part of a £200m scheme led by the Department for Digital, Culture, Media & Sport (DCMS).
Aberdeen and Aberdeenshire, West Sussex, Coventry and Warwickshire, Bristol and Bath & North East Somerset, West Yorkshire and Greater Manchester will all benefit from the test projects that will test "innovative ways" of connecting offices and public-sector buildings with full-fibre networks to the premises.
DCMS is spending £10m on the tests ahead of a full roll-out of the £200m programme.
"We want to see more commercial investment in the gold standard connectivity that full fibre provides, and these innovative pilots will help create the right environment for this to happen," said Minister of State for Digital, Matt Hancock.
"To keep Britain as the digital world leader that it is, we need to have the right infrastructure in place to allow us to keep up with the rapid advances in technology now and in the future."
The announcement follows on from the Digital Infrastructure Investment Fund, which was originally announced in November 2016, and then, er, announced again in July 2017.
That plan would see £400m of taxpayers' money being used as a subsidy to encourage the private sector to invest more than £1bn to fund full-fibre broadband across the country. In addition, the government also introduced new legislation to enable business rates relief for new fibre as an additional subsidy.
The rest of the £200m fund will be spent by the end of the 2020-21 financial year.
The decision to proceed with the six pilots follows the government's call for evidence on extending local fibre networks. The government received 125 submissions from communications providers, local bodies and other interested parties.
It should be noted, though, that some of the areas already have 1Gbps capable networks installed by providers such as City Fibre.
The initiative and the way in which it is structured may also raise questions over EU state aid rules, with a voucher-led approach expected to be adopted enabling businesses to get vouchers to the value of £3,000 to channel the subsidies to providers, according to ISP Review. µ
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