Broadband and the road to 5G Contents

3The Government’s targets and funding for digital connectivity

Gigabit-capable broadband

20.The timescales and technological scope of the Government’s targets for gigabit connectivity have evolved considerably over recent years. In 2018, the Government set out its ambition for full-fibre broadband to reach 15 million premises by 2025, with nationwide coverage by 2033.43 However, the Conservative Party’s 2019 manifesto accelerated this aim stating, “we intend to bring full-fibre and gigabit-capable broadband to every home and business across the UK by 2025”.44 Since the election, and in its evidence to us, the Government dropped the manifesto’s explicit mention of full-fibre, pledging instead the technology-agnostic aim of nationwide gigabit-capable broadband by 2025.45

21.In October, the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, the Rt Hon Oliver Dowden MP, and the Minister for Digital Infrastructure acknowledged, as the Government had in its manifesto, that delivering nationwide gigabit connectivity by 2025 would be a challenge.46 While neither were willing to give a clear indication of how likely the target was to be met, the Secretary of State told us that DCMS was “straining every sinew”, and the Minister said he was “absolutely confident” that the Government was doing everything it could to reach it.47 Yet despite these assurances, the Government scrapped the target just six weeks later in the Spending Review. The long-awaited National Infrastructure Strategy instead outlined that the Government is “working with industry to target a minimum of 85% gigabit capable coverage by 2025 but will seek to accelerate roll-out further to get as close to 100% as possible”.48

Nationwide gigabit-capable broadband by 2025: an unrealistic aim

22.This change reflects our inquiry’s findings that there was little confidence that nationwide gigabit-capable broadband by 2025 could be delivered and “no genuine belief” within the sector that it was achievable.49 GreySky Consulting told us that, based on the roll-out of previous fibre-to-the-cabinet technology used to deliver superfast broadband, replacing the existing copper parts of the network will simply take too long.50 Yet “the planning, wayleaves and street works management systems and procedures currently in place struggle to support the current pace of deployment. It is not clear how they can be changed to support” increased build rates.51 Similarly, the National Audit Office (NAO) observed that:

Delivering UK-wide connectivity would require the telecoms industry to lay around 500,000 kilometres of new cable to around 31 million premises, compared with around 100,000 street cabinets for fibre to the cabinet (FTTC). It would need to undertake roadworks on most UK roads. To achieve the 2025 timeline, it would need to increase build rates immediately from 1.5 million premises per year currently, to around six million.52

23.Striking a more cautiously optimistic tone while arguing that the target was “extremely challenging to achieve, particularly in the current climate”, the Broadband Stakeholder Group, which represents the views of the broadband industry to Government, told us that majority coverage by 2025 could be achieved, but “success is nonetheless contingent upon industry, Government and the regulator working together, developing and implementing the right policies and a regulatory framework that encourages investment and innovation”.53 Similarly CityFibre, which plans to deliver full-fibre to eight million homes, told us the target was “challenging but viable if urgent but deliverable steps [are] taken to adjust the Government’s policies and Ofcom’s regulatory approach”.54

24.Although the Government had brought forward the 2033 target by eight years, the policy levers being used to deliver it, such as reforms to wayleaves and street works, were largely the same as those envisaged back in 2018’s Future Telecoms Infrastructure Review (FTIR). Rural fibre infrastructure provider Gigaclear told us that to meet the target, “policy considerations beyond those set out within the FTIR will need to be considered”.55 Virgin Media also said that while the FTIR “was informed by a six-week call for evidence from industry”, the acceleration of the target “did not follow any formal consultation process with industry” and therefore “there is an urgent need for an update to the policy framework to facilitate the accelerated timelines”.56 Likewise, CityFibre told us that “it is not enough to simply to turn the wheel on existing policies and expect eight years to be shaved off delivery”.57

25.We asked the Minister for Digital Infrastructure how plans had evolved since the FTIR to reflect the accelerated timescale. He outlined the importance of setting the right market conditions for the commercial roll-out and designing the right procurement for the subsidised roll-out.58 As both of these interventions were envisaged in 2018, we questioned whether anything had really changed. He responded that “the devil is in the detail” and that ultimately the Government’s policies and reforms would be different in the light of the accelerated timescale, stating “the scale of our ambition will be reflected in the actions that we take”.59 Nonetheless, calls for the Government to publish an updated plan persist, with the Communication Workers Union stating that without a far more detailed, costed and timetabled action plan, [the target] amounts to empty rhetoric”.60

Value of a ‘stretch goal’

26.Yet even if the 2025 target was unrealistic, it was welcome, as it focused minds and efforts on the challenge ahead. Andrew Glover, Chair of the Internet Service Providers’ Association (ISPA), told us:

It is far better to shoot for 100% and fall slightly short than to set what everyone would say they would be very happy with, which would be, say, 70%, and then achieve only 70%. Are we going to hit the 100%? It is going to be incredibly difficult. Is it a worthwhile ambition? Absolutely.61

Similarly, Dame Melanie Dawes, CEO of Ofcom, told us that “the 2025 ambition from Government is certainly very stretching, there is no question of that. That is a good thing because it is focusing everybody’s minds, including Ofcom’s”.62 However, not all shared that view. The NAO observed that other major infrastructure projects, such as the smart meter roll-out and Crossrail, demonstrate that “attempting to adhere to a fixed timeline, which later proves unachievable, can contribute to delays and cost overruns”.63

27.Sticking to unachievable targets benefits no-one, and it was inevitable that the Government would have to abandon its unrealistic manifesto pledge to deliver nationwide gigabit connectivity by 2025. Ministers should be ready to respond openly, in answering questions from members of a select committee, accepting that a target will not be met when they already possess sufficient information to know that it is not going to be achieved. We welcome the fact it has finally listened to concerns, rethought the target and taken a more realistic outlook. However, the time it has taken to do so will have delayed industry, local bodies and consumers receiving the information they need to plan or build a robust investment case. Moreover, given that the previous target had been staunchly defended to us makes us question how much of a say DCMS had in the decision to scrap it, and the extent to which both the new target and its likely implications have been fully considered in consultation with industry.

How much more realistic is 85% coverage by 2025?

28.The new target of delivering gigabit-capable broadband to 85% of the country by 2025 must also be interrogated. The Government “expects the private sector to deliver gigabit-capable broadband to around 80% of premises in the UK”.64 The Government had previously committed £5 billion for supporting delivery to the remaining 20% of non-commercial properties; however, the Spending Review commits only £1.2 billion (or roughly 25% of the full amount) over the next four years to 2025.65 Assuming, therefore, that the Government expects to subsidise roll-out to only a quarter of the 20% hardest-to-reach premises before 2025, this leads us to conclude that roughly 80% of the target should be delivered commercially and 5% through state subsidy.66 To meet this, commercial roll-out will have to happen just as fast as it would have under the previous target.

Is it achievable?

29.The 85% target was announced in the late stages of our inquiry; however, evidence we received enables us to assess the feasibility of delivering gigabit connectivity to approximately 26 million premises in the next four years. CityFibre told us it was possible “to have 80–90% […] coverage achieved by 2025 and a credible plan and commitments in place to complete nationwide full-fibre roll-out by the end of the decade”.67 Openreach “aims to pass 20 million premises by the mid to late 2020s” with full-fibre, but told us this “will require significant amounts of private sector investment […] and will need operators to deploy at pace and scale. Both these elements require Government support”.68

30.Between May 2019 and May 2020, an additional 1.8 million premises gained access to full-fibre services bringing the total to just over four million.69 To deliver full-fibre to the remaining c.22 million premises by 2025 would require that build rate to increase three-fold. Yet Vodafone points out that “even if build rates did improve” the roll-out of multiple full-fibre networks in the same area, or overbuild, “could reduce the geographic coverage of the incremental build”.70 CityFibre points out that while Government and Ofcom policy incentivises overbuild, which “is, after all, infrastructure competition in action”, there is a risk of “excessive and in some cases targeted overbuild of networks in some locations at the expense of national coverage and long-term competitive investment”.71 It recommends re-evaluating “whether duplication is the most effective way to achieve nationwide coverage” while stating:

This does not mean the market should revert to monopolistic provision, but that duplication could be managed for a strictly limited period of time whilst the focus is on completion of the coverage ambition.72

31.We must not ignore the fact the revised target also means 15% of the country, most likely to be rural areas and in the devolved nations, will not receive gigabit-capable connections by 2025.73 In fact, the National Infrastructure Strategy provides no specific target for when the rest of the country can expect to benefit from gigabit connectivity.74 Yet the Rural Services Network told us it is imperative “Government does not water down its commitment made to rural communities and so leave them trailing behind”.75 The Local Government Association told us it is paramount that the “Government does not attempt to square the circle” of budget and timescale pressures “by reducing the offer to rural or more difficult to reach areas”. It holds that “national gigabit provision must, insofar as possible, be a universal service”.76

32.It would not be acceptable having abandoned one unrealistic target, for the Government to fail to meet a second, less ambitious, target through lack of effective planning or inadequate investment. The Government should outline, in its response to this Report if not before, how it settled on the new gigabit-capable broadband target of 85% coverage by 2025, a full assessment of how likely it considers it to be met, and the detail of how it plans to deliver it. The Government should also clearly state its target date by which it expects the remaining 15% of premises to be served with gigabit-capable broadband.

What difference does a technology-neutral approach make?

33.A major change from the FTIR’s framework has been the shift to a technology-neutral aim for gigabit-capable, rather than full-fibre, networks. The NAO cautioned that some consider the shift to this technology-neutral approach “a watering down of the target because they view fibre as a superior technology”.77 However, the Minister told us that the Government is “technology-agnostic” in its approach to delivering gigabit connectivity as people rarely care about how they get their broadband as long as they receive the speeds and service they expect.78 He told us that for people with 5G coverage it will “almost certainly” serve their needs and therefore “it would not be commercially sensible or the best use of public money to be putting fibre connections into all of those properties”.79

34.Malcolm Corbett from the Independent Networks Co-operative Association (INCA) told us that the shift to a technology-neutral aim makes “a significant difference” to the likelihood of meeting coverage targets.80 As Graph 1 illustrates, bringing other gigabit-capable technologies into scope, such as Virgin Media’s upgraded DOCSIS 3.1 cable network, gives coverage statistics a much-needed boost. Indeed, the Minister told us that he expects 52% of the UK to have gigabit-capable connectivity “within the next year or so”,81 which was echoed in Virgin Media’s observation that the upgrade of the more than 15 million premises on its network by the end of 2021 will see it “delivering half of the Government’s [former] target four years early”.82

Graph 1

Data source: thinkbroadband, UK Superfast and Fibre Coverage

35.Many in industry support this technology-neutral approach. TechUK argued that because “there are likely to be some consumers for whom full-fibre could never be cost-effectively provided […] 5G fixed wireless access (FWA), which is gigabit-capable, should be clearly within scope” of efforts to roll-out gigabit connectivity.83 Similarly, Vodafone’s former Global Director of Policy told us that 5G fixed wireless broadband could be a valuable stopgap “because the infrastructure and associated investments in 5G can later be repurposed to support other valuable 5G applications once full-fibre becomes available.” He continued:

Since many of the more innovative and complex applications for 5G still remain underdeveloped and uncertain, fixed wireless services can utilize capacity and generate revenues for the operators in the meantime.84

36.However, others told us that full-fibre technology is the “most ‘future-proof’ investment”, as its reliability, longevity and performance is superior to other gigabit-capable technologies.85 CityFibre told us that while it might be tempting to include cable and mobile technologies in delivering nationwide gigabit connectivity, “none of these other ‘gigabit-capable’ technologies provide the reliable, future-proofed capability needed to support the UK’s long-term digital ambitions”. It warned against a “strategy that encourages public and private investment in networks which will themselves need to be replaced with full-fibre by the end of this decade” and argued that nationwide coverage of full-fibre is the best way “to avoid a long-term digital and economic divide”.86 Similarly, Dr Paolo Gerli and Professor Jason Whalley from Northumbria University told us the definition of gigabit-capable broadband is “vague” and:

If the intention of the Government is to expand the availability of future-proof connectivity across the UK, then FTTH would appear to be the only option, especially in rural areas where the idiosyncrasies of the legacy network (such as the length of copper cables and the high costs of maintaining overhead cables) make hybrid solutions unlikely to deliver gigabit connectivity.87

37.Furthermore, technical specifications might limit the ability for 5G to provide the final stretch of gigabit connectivity to premises in rural areas. To deliver the higher speeds required for gigabit connectivity, 5G must travel at higher frequencies across shorter distances.88 This requires more masts and so increases costs of deployment.89 Dr Greig Paul told us that5G will not solve Government’s problem of getting rural areas connected to gigabit speeds” and therefore:

Government should be more precise in its wording, and commit to high-quality, fixed-line connectivity, rather than wrongly assuming that wireless networks will address the costly and inconvenient “long tail”. Otherwise, the program risks going significantly over budget or failing to deliver improvements for those in the hardest-to-reach areas.90

38.Dr Greig Paul also holds that because 5G will also require fibre infrastructure to connect masts to the rest of network, “5G can and should be used to drive roll-out of fibre, which can and should be shared with mobile networks and consumers alike”.91 Yet Vodafone observes that the challenge is that full-fibre networks:

will often not be built in the same place as fibre to the mast. This is because planning law discourages the placement of masts in those areas where FTTH fibre will be laid, for example in the middle of housing estates. The Government needs to recognise this difference and encourage the build of fibre hubs that can also be used by mobile infrastructure.92

Gareth Elliott from Mobile UK summed the situation up when he told us that 5G “is not quite the silver bullet” as we “are still going to need fibre to fire that gun”.93

39.There are also concerns that too great a reliance on Virgin’s network could undermine retail and infrastructure competition in the broadband market. For example, CityFibre stated that as a vertically-integrated company that provides both the physical network and the internet service, Virgin Media’s network offered “only limited competition” to Openreach, while TalkTalk observed that Virgin Media’s customers were “unavailable to potential entrants to the infrastructure network”.94

40.The Government’s technology-agnostic approach to securing a nationwide gigabit-capable network makes sense in the context of delivering faster connections to as many premises as possible as quickly as possible. However, the Government must not let it come with a trade-off in performance or longevity: any technologies used to deliver gigabit connectivity must be future-proof. Moreover, fibre will be a significant component of other gigabit-capable technologies, such as 5G, and therefore the challenges of rolling out a truly nationwide full-fibre network must not be underestimated.

Funding for hardest-to-reach areas

41.Even if half the country does get gigabit connectivity from Virgin Media by the end of 2021, that does not mean the rest will be served by 2025. While coverage of full-fibre is accelerating at pace, that growth primarily reflects industry efforts to roll-out to the easier-to-reach premises. What comes next will be harder, as the Minister acknowledged when he told us that “the very hardest bits of the country to do will take longer than some of the most commercially attractive parts that are already in the process of being done”.95

42.Infrastructure providers assess which premises are commercially viable based on the cost of installing the infrastructure and the projected returns from the level of consumer demand.96 However, not all areas will deliver the returns required for commercial roll-out, resulting in an estimated coverage shortfall of 20% to 30%.97 The Government has committed £5 billion to complement private sector investment and deliver gigabit-capable infrastructure to the 20% of premises that are most expensive to serve.98 In contrast to the roll-out of superfast broadband, where Government intervention to support delivery to the harder to reach properties came after commercial roll-out, DCMS told us in its written evidence that it intends to take an ‘outside-in’ approach so that the hardest-to-reach properties are not left until last but receive upgraded connections in the same timeframe as commercial roll-out takes place.99

43.Industry expects the Government’s gigabit programme to be split between a voucher scheme and direct supply side intervention delivering gap funding for infrastructure providers to roll-out to non-commercial areas.100 But following the latest Spending Review, only £1.2 billion (25% of the total expected investment) is expected to be spent over the next four years to 2025, with no clarity about how or when the rest of the money will be made available.101 Projecting forward, and assuming the current level of spending is maintained with Government committing £1.2 billion every four years from 2025, the full £5 billion will not be spent until 2034. While industry has told us it understands the remaining money will be ringfenced, it lacks confidence that this pledge will stand the test of time and is unclear about the Government’s conditions for making that money available.

44.Even before the Spending Review, there were doubts whether £5 billion would be enough to deliver the Government’s outside-in strategy. The Future Telecoms Infrastructure Review (FTIR) estimated that delivering full-fibre connections to the final 10% (approx. 3 million) of properties that would not attract commercial investment by 2033 would cost £3 billion to £5 billion.102 Since then, the number of premises to be covered by public subsidy has doubled from 10% to 20% with no increase in funding. This is despite Ofcom and Openreach estimating that costs per premises of roll-out could rise to between £2,500 and £4,000 for the hardest-to-reach places.103

45.We asked the Minister for Digital Infrastructure whether £5 billion would be enough to deliver gigabit connectivity to the hardest 20% of properties. He told us that the apparent shortfall between the amount available and the target number of properties “is only half the picture” as:

What you also have is a significantly greater investor appetite than there was when those ideas were formulated. What you have is a significantly improved technology roadmap, both from Virgin Media and from BT and from others, that allows them to get their investments to go further. It allows us to get our investments to go further, and of course you also have 5G and fixed wireless and a whole host of other technologies that allow us to get to a greater number.104

46.Industry is less optimistic. Andrew Glover from the Internet Service Providers’ Association (ISPA) told us that he suspects “more money will be needed”, as based on current cost estimates £5 billion “only deals with 10%, not 20%”.105 Indeed, DCMS has already acknowledged that £5 billion will not be sufficient to cover the final 1% of hard-to-reach properties, which could be “prohibitively expensive” and therefore require other solutions.106 CityFibre warns that a funding shortfall will result in a “missing middle” consisting of “not just rural areas, but many small towns and large villages too”.107

Compatibility with coverage target

47.Furthermore, there are concerns that the outside-in approach could actually undermine the Government’s coverage target. The Welsh Government called the previous commitment to nationwide coverage by 2025 and the outside-in approach two “competing and inherently incompatible drivers” because:

Achieving the first requires delivery of large volumes of premises at pace, while achieving the second goal actively diverts public investment away from large volumes of premises towards sparse, low volume, distributed premises that are difficult, slow and expensive to reach.108

48.CityFibre told us that between now and 2025 its attention “must be on the contractual fulfilment of our existing [8 million] roll-out plan, which is focused principally on urban deployment. It would not be possible for us to separately mobilise to make significant contributions to the outside in programme if this required us to divert substantial resources away from the execution of that plan and the resultant rural build was not additive to that plan”.109 Andrew Glover from ISPA also told us that dealing with the hardest-to-reach properties “will potentially slow down some of the rest of the roll-out” because, with a finite number of engineers and equipment, the outside-in programme will require industry to divert its resource from rolling out to commercial areas.110 Vodafone’s former Global Director of Policy told us “it is not clear why investors would do this unless the Government were to offer them the prospect of even higher returns than they expect to earn on their other investments. That does not seem to be an attractive position for the UK taxpayer to be put in”.111 The Minister told us that in addressing this contradiction Government will be asking “what is the right balance between getting the maximum number of people connected versus making the maximum difference to those people’s lives”.112

49.It is difficult to see how £5 billion will be enough to meet the Government’s aim of delivering gigabit broadband to the hardest-to-reach 20% of premises. Investment in digital infrastructure is too important to be compromised. It is therefore disappointing that over the next four years, the Government will make available only 25% of the £5 billion it had committed to support the roll-out of gigabit-capable broadband to the hardest-to-reach premises. This will undermine the ambition for such premises to receive better connectivity at the same time as other parts of the UK.

50.The Government should outline in its response to this Report, if not before, how the remaining £3.8 billion has been ringfenced and when it expects to make it available for delivering gigabit-capable broadband to the hardest-to-reach properties.

Majority 5G coverage by 2027

51.The Government’s targets for 5G have changed less than those for gigabit-capable broadband; however, there have been other significant developments in the policy and regulatory landscape. The Government is “committed to being a world leader in 5G, with the majority of the population covered by 2027”.113 Yet Vodafone’s former Global Director of Policy observed that beyond this coverage goal, detail was lacking about precisely what infrastructure will be delivered to achieve it. He told us:

the Government does not appear to have any particular targets for the deployment of 5G infrastructure in the UK over the next 5–10 years. Nor, so far as I am aware, has there been any consideration of how such targets, and the potential role for 5G fixed wireless services, might then inform the Government’s full-fibre plans.114

Gareth Elliott from Mobile UK told us that majority coverage of 5G by 2027 was “ambitious” and that meeting it would require the rapid removal of barriers “such as the planning framework, certainty on policy, vendor diversification and digital championing at a local level”.115 However, the Minister assured us that he was “very confident” that the target of providing 5G to 35 million people by 2027 would be exceeded, as “we already have 5G in 100 towns and cities”.116

A continuation of the digital divide?

52.The Minister’s confidence reflects the fact that the target is based on serving the majority of the population with 5G rather than the majority of the UK’s landmass. Yet this highlights the risk that the roll-out of 5G will follow the same pattern, and suffer the same issues, seen with previous mobile generations: leaving some parts of the country with poorer mobile connectivity and exacerbating the digital divide.

53.Dr Paolo Gerli and Professor Jason Whalley observed that when it comes to both fixed and mobile telecoms networks, “private investors have prioritised densely populated urban areas, where economies of scale are achievable and the cost of network roll-out can be reduced. Consequently, scarcely populated rural areas have historically lagged behind urban areas in terms of access to fixed and mobile networks. This situation is likely to be replicated in the context of 5G and [gigabit-capable networks]”.117 Indeed, O2 told us that “the challenge the industry is most likely to face will be a lack of return on investment in more remote and sparsely populated areas, where the cost and challenge of delivering connectivity is at its greatest and the numbers of customers are low”.118 Addressing the digital divide will therefore require “strengthening the business case for infrastructure investment in remoter, more rural areas”.119

54.To this end, we have heard that “the operators, the Government and Ofcom need to work collaboratively” and “as an investment model for the future, the Shared Rural Network is an encouraging precedent that should be developed and built upon”.120 Vodafone’s former Global Director of Policy recommended that the Government go further and “expand the scope of the SRN agreement to ensure that the availability of 5G fixed wireless services accompanies, rather than follows, the expansion of 4G coverage, over the next 1–5 years”.121 The Rural Services Network told us that the risk of a 5G digital divide should be addressed “through an equivalent outside-in commitment” for 5G as Government has pledged for gigabit-capable broadband.122

The impact of the Telecoms Supply Chain Review

55.Achieving majority 5G coverage by 2027 is being balanced with maintaining the security of the telecoms network.123 Following the Government’s review of UK telecommunications supply chains, it announced, in January 2020, that equipment from high-risk vendors would be excluded from sensitive, core parts of the 5G network and allowed to comprise no more than 35% of the wider access network, which connects devices and equipment to mobile phone masts.124 Although warning that the decision would “result in a delay to the roll-out of 5G in the UK and significant additional cost as operators procure from a second vendor”, mobile network operator Three welcomed the Government’s “fact-based decision grounded in evidence from the security community and the telecoms sector”.125

56.In July, the Government amended its policy towards the use of Huawei equipment, following changes to the National Cyber Security Centre’s assessment of the company’s presence in the UK’s 5G network. This decision reflected the imposition of new sanctions against Huawei in the United States, which restricted the company’s ability to make products using US technology or software and could influence its ability to supply new equipment in the UK. The Secretary of State announced that the Government would make it illegal for telecoms operators to buy any new equipment from Huawei from 31 December 2020 and set out a timetable for the complete removal of Huawei equipment from the 5G network by 2027.126 This is to include a ban on companies installing any new Huawei equipment from 30 September 2021.127 The Secretary of State told the House that the full scope of these restrictions would amount to “a cumulative delay to 5G roll-out of two to three years, and costs of up to £2 billion”.128

57.The Government has brought forward the Telecommunications (Security) Bill to set out these requirements in legislation and provide greater powers to enforce them. Gareth Elliott from Mobile UK told us that it is important, from an industry perspective, that the policy on Huawei equipment does not change again, as “if those targets continue to move, we cannot build certainty into our own infrastructure planning”.129

58.The policy will impact the roll-out of 5G by some mobile network operators more than others, with O2 the only UK mobile operator that has no Huawei equipment in its 5G network.130 Yet restrictions on the use of Huawei equipment also have implications for full-fibre networks, where supply chains rely heavily on just a few vendors.131 DCMS is therefore consulting operators to determine how Huawei equipment will be deployed in non-5G networks while also trying to “avoid unnecessary delays” to its gigabit ambitions.132 Yet, in evidence to us, Openreach was clear that although efforts to diversify supply chains mean it could meet the 35% cap on use of Huawei equipment, removing all Huawei equipment in a short time frame would require it to “rip and replace” its existing network.133 The operational challenges of this “would take years rather than months” and result in disruption for customers. Openreach told us that redeploying engineers to rebuild the existing network would delay rolling out fibre to new homes, while “the significant costs involved in carrying out this work would also reduce available cash to support further network deployment”.134

59.There are technical reasons why 5G will not be the silver bullet for delivering gigabit connectivity to rural areas but this will be exacerbated if the roll-out of 5G follows the same commercially-driven pattern as previous generations of mobile technology. Even if roll-out in urban areas means the majority of the population is able to access 5G by 2027, which is by no means assured given the restrictions on the use of Huawei equipment, Government must do more to ensure that rural areas do not get left behind.

60.The Government should complete a formal review of progress towards its targets for gigabit-capable broadband and 5G by the end of 2022 and report back to us on progress.

43 Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, Future Telecoms Infrastructure Review, (July 2018), p 1

44 The Conservative and Unionist Party, ‘Manifesto 2019, accessed 4 November 2020

45 Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (BRO0077)

46 Oral evidence taken on 14 October 2020, HC (2019–21) 157, Qq171–175, Qq84–91

47 Oral evidence taken on 14 October 2020, HC (2019–21) 157, Q171, Q75

48 HM Treasury, National Infrastructure Strategy, CP 329, 25 November 2020, p 31

49 GreySky Consulting (BRO0186) para 2.1.1

50 GreySky Consulting (BRO0186) para 2.2.2

51 GreySky Consulting (BRO0186) para 2.2.3

52 C&AG’s Report, Improving Broadband, Session 2019–121, HC 863, 16 October 2020, para 2.10

53 Broadband Stakeholder Group (BRO0126)

54 CityFibre Holdings (BRO0112)

55 Gigaclear (BRO0202)

56 Virgin Media (BRO0176) para 1.16

57 CityFibre Holdings (BRO0112) para 8

60 CityFibre supplementary (BRO0213), Communication Workers Union (BRO0025) para 2

61 Q2 [Andrew Glover]

62 Oral evidence taken on 23 June 2020, HC (2019–21) 439, Q44

63 C&AG’s Report, Improving Broadband, Session 2019–121, HC 863, 16 October 2020, para 3.15

64 HM Treasury, National Infrastructure Strategy, CP 329, 25 November 2020, p 32

65 HM Treasury, Spending Review 2020, CP 330, November 2020, p 111

66 This conclusion also depends on which properties the Government intends to be covered by the £1.2 billion between now and 2025, and the relative costs of delivering infrastructure to them, which can vary significantly depending on location and type of technology to be used. Depending on these factors, it is possible that the £1.2 billion subsidy could end up covering more or less than 5% of premises.

67 CityFibre Holdings (BRO0112) para 3.3

68 Openreach (BRO0194) para 2

70 Vodafone UK (BRO0093) para 11

71 CityFibre Holdings (BRO0112) para 4.3

72 CityFibre Holdings (BRO0112) para 4.3

73 Welsh Government (BRO0183)

74 HM Treasury, National Infrastructure Strategy, CP 329, 25 November 2020, p 31

75 Rural Services Network (BRO0014) para 7

76 Local Government Association (BRO0075) para 3.2

77 C&AG’s Report, Improving Broadband, Session 2019–121, HC 863, 16 October 2020, para 3.16

80 Q2 [Malcolm Corbett]

82 Virgin Media (BRO0176) para 1.10

83 techUK (BRO0122)

84 Richard Feasey (BRO0158), para 12d

85 Dave Happy (BRO0113)

86 CityFibre Holdings (BRO0112) para 1.1

87 Dr Paolo Gerli and Professor Jason Whalley (BRO0033) para A3

88 University of Strathclyde (BRO0200)

89 Q26 [Andrew Glover]

90 University of Strathclyde (BRO0200)

91 University of Strathclyde (BRO0200)

92 Vodafone UK (BRO0093) para 16

94 CityFibre Holdings (BRO0112) para 2, TalkTalk (BRO0210)

97 CityFibre Holdings (BRO0112) para 1.3, Richard Feasey (BRO0158) para 5

98 Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (BRO0077) para 6

99 Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (BRO0077) para 20

101 HM Treasury, Spending Review 2020, CP 330, November 2020, p 111

102 Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, Future Telecoms Infrastructure Review, (July 2018), p 45

103 TalkTalk (BRO0210), Local Government Association (BRO0075) para 4.4

106 C&AG’s Report, Improving Broadband, Session 2019–121, HC 863, 16 October 2020, para 2.9

107 CityFibre supplementary (BRO0213)

108 Welsh Government (BRO0183)

109 CityFibre Holdings (BRO0112) para 5.1

111 Richard Feasey (BRO0158) para 9

113 Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (BRO0077) para 5

114 Richard Feasey (BRO0158), para 15

117 Dr Paolo Gerli and Prof Jason Whalley (BRO0033) para B1

118 O2 (BRO0195) para 7.6

119 O2 (BRO0195) para 3.1

120 O2 (BRO0195) para 3.2

121 Richard Feasey (BRO0158) para 16

122 Rural Services Network (BRO0014) para 8

123 Our inquiry has examined the impact of recent policy decisions regarding high-risk vendors to its impact on roll-out of 5G and gigabit connectivity. However, we note the valuable work of the Defence Committee on the security implications of 5G, and the Science and Technology Committee on diversification of telecoms supply chains.

124 Department for Digital, Culture, Media & Sport, National Cyber Security Centre, ‘New plans to safeguard country’s telecoms network and pave way for fast, reliable and secure connectivity, accessed 3 December 2020

125 Three (BRO0072)

126 HC Deb, 14 July 2020, col 1376 [Commons Chamber]

127 HC Deb, 30 November 2020, col 72 [Commons Chamber]

128 HC Deb, 14 July 2020, col 1376 [Commons Chamber]

130 O2 (BRO0195) para 7.5

131 techUK (BRO0122)

132 HC Deb, 14 July 2020, col 1377 [Commons Chamber]

133 Openreach (BRO0194) para 49

134 Openreach (BRO0194) para 51

Published: 22 December 2020 Site information    Accessibility statement