Improving Broadband Contents


The Department for Digital, Culture, Media & Sport (the Department) has overall responsibility for government’s broadband policies. Building Digital UK (BDUK), a unit within the Department, implements these policies and delivers government’s broadband programmes. Since 2011–12, alongside roll-out by industry, the Department’s Superfast Broadband Programme has provided £1.9 billion of public subsidy to suppliers to help them deliver faster broadband (download speeds of at least 24 Mbps) to 5.3 million premises in areas that are not profitable. In the programme’s early phases, superfast broadband was delivered mostly through a mix of copper wire and fibre technology. The latest wholly fibre technology, while more expensive to roll-out provides much faster ‘gigabit’ (1000 Mbps) speeds. However, the UK currently lags behind its European counterparts on full-fibre coverage and, to meet future demand, government had pledged nationwide gigabit-capable infrastructure by 2025. The Department expects industry to deliver to 80% of UK premises through commercial roll-out and government announced £5 billion for a new programme to subsidise most of the hardest-to-reach 20% in its Spring 2020 budget. It considers the final 1% of UK properties to be too expensive to reach and will seek additional funding and alternative solutions for these.

Since we took oral evidence, government has published its 2020 Spending Review. This allocates £1.2 billion between 2021–22 and 2024–25 and describes this amount as being for the “first 4 years” of the £5 billion gigabit broadband programme. Alongside the spending review, government also published a new National Infrastructure Strategy in which it has announced a revised coverage target to reach a minimum of 85% of premises by 2025, and says it will seek to get as close to 100% as possible. There are not dates for coverage targets beyond 85%.

Published: 8 January 2021 Site information    Accessibility statement