ISPA were disappointed to see only a quarter of the Government's committed spending on broadband allocated across the next four years in the Chancellor's Comprehensive Spending Review. This considerable change in policy direction seems entirely out of step with the Government’s commitment an “outside-in” approach and their levelling up agenda.

The industry is entering the key deployment phase for the UK’s gigabit capable network and immediate clarity on how and when the remaining £3.8bn of funding will be allocated is critical as providers look to recalibrate their build plans, recruitment and investment decisions.

Andrew Glover, ISPA Chair commented:

“Today’s announcement scaling back the Government’s ambitions for supporting broadband rollout in the hardest to reach areas and is a blow to rural communities. Instead of aiming for nationwide coverage, Government now expects coverage of 85% and with only a quarter of the previously promised funding allocated until 2025.

This will not stop providers from continuing to press ahead with their commercial rollout plans, but it puts an even greater emphasis on tackling the regulatory and practical barriers that make rollout more difficult than it should be.

As our experiences over 2020 have proved, our broadband infrastructure is fundamental to propping up the UK’s economy in periods of lockdown, we urge the Government to ensure that this policy pivot does not lead to longer term digital exclusion of those in harder to reach areas.”