Telecoms infrastructure update

The deployment of next-generation fixed telecoms infrastructure has taken a step forward with two recent announcements.  

In December 2021, DCMS published a technical consultation on new legislative proposals and draft statutory guidance for mandating the installation of gigabit infrastructure and connections in new build homes. This consultation (“New build developments: delivering gigabit-capable connections”) confirms DCMS legislative proposals that will require developers to ensure that: 

  • all new build homes are installed with the gigabit-ready physical infrastructure necessary for gigabit-capable connections; 
  • a gigabit-capable connection is installed in a new build home subject to a £2,000 cost cap per dwelling; or 
  • where a gigabit-capable connection is not being installed, the next fastest broadband connection is installed without exceeding the £2,000 cost cap 

Government has stated it is a priority to ensure that new homes across the UK are built with fast, reliable and resilient broadband connections, which is not currently the case for all newly built homes and its legislative proposals will address this issue by amending the Building Regulations 2010 in order to require housing developers in England to meet the above requirements.  

The consultation is open now, with a closing date of 28 February 2022.  

It’s a welcome announcement, and long-awaited by the UK fixed telecoms sector, as DCMS originally consulted on its proposals in 2018. The sector has been proactive in building strong relationships with many of the UK housebuilders, to ensure gigabit-capable connections are established in new builds, so the need today is not as pressing as it once was. Even so, the latest consultation will ensure that all new house builds, even in rural areas, will have next-generation infrastructure from the start.  

Important to note also that these proposals will apply to England only, as building regulations are a devolved matter. However, DCMS states that “the provision of gigabit-capable connections to new build homes is a priority for the government across the whole of the UK. We are therefore working closely with the Devolved Administrations to enable this policy to be implemented across the UK”.  

New Project Gigabit National Rolling Open Market Review 

Reiterating its ambition is to deliver nationwide gigabit-capable broadband as soon as possible, the government has also announced a new National Rolling Open Market Review as part of BDUK’s Project Gigabit. The Project has committed an initial £1.2 billion (of a total £5 billion) to intervene and build gigabit-capable infrastructure in areas of the UK where it is commercially unviable for the private sector.  

Previously, a number of regional Open Market Reviews (OMRs) have taken place for areas BDUK has announced will benefit first. But in an effort to streamline and make the Project Gigabit process more efficient, from January 2022, BDUK will ask suppliers delivering gigabit-capable infrastructure to submit national data returns on a 4-monthly basis (January, May and September) to provide detailed build plans at premises level. The purpose of the new National Rolling OMR is to ensure BDUK has the most up to date information about suppliers’ existing and planned build over the next 3-year period, which should help support better strategic planning and prioritisation of Project Gigabit Procurement intervention areas.  

BDUK also sees that, in the longer term, data collected from the National Rolling Open Market Review could also be used to inform GigaHubs and UK Gigabit Voucher eligibility as well as support the development of other potential BDUK interventions. 

For an update on Project Gigabit progress to date, purpose of the RFI, scope, eligibility, commercial process, role of local bodies and other key info – head to the DCMS website. This consultation closes at 17:00 on 15 February 2022 

If this of interest – join the Telecoms Infrastructure and Deployment Working Group 

techUK members are welcome to attend the first meeting of 2022 for the Telecoms Infrastructure and Deployment Working Group, the home of telecoms network rollout at techUK, covering both fixed and mobile infrastructure.

The Working Group is led by Asa Caton, Business Development Director at WHP Telecoms Limited, and emphasises the uptake of the deployment of fibre and radio networks through engagement and collaboration with local authorities, working with techUK’s Local Government Programme, creating a forum all stakeholders to convene and share knowledge and best practice.

The meeting takes place on Thursday 3 February 2022, 10:00-12:00.

Sophie James

Sophie James

Head of Telecoms and Spectrum Policy, techUK

Manuel R. Marti

Manuel R. Marti

Programme Manager, UK SPF and Satellite, techUK

Julia Ofori-Addo

Julia Ofori-Addo

Programme Assistant, Central Government, Digital Connectivity Forum, Comms Infrastructure, UK SPF, , techUK