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Government must focus on FTTP broadband and 5G, says minister

Monday, October 31st 2016 by Phil Wilkinson-Jones

The government needs to focus on delivering “ubiquitous” fibre broadband and 5G mobile coverage, digital minister Matt Hancock has said.

He hinted at a shift in government policy towards fibre to the premises (FTTP) broadband and away from the fibre to the cabinet (FTTC) solution favoured by the BDUK programme so far.

Addressing the Parliament and Internet Conference last week, Mr Hancock said superfast broadband speeds of 24Mbps are available to 91% of UK homes and businesses.

That figure is on course to reach 95% by the end of 2017, he said, with the UK comparing favourably with both its European neighbours and globally.

But he warned: “In the push to drive out superfast part-fibre broadband we have not made progress on full fibre, which is currently supplied to only 2% of premises.

“And make no mistake, the future is fibre. Rollout is happening all over the world and take-up is high. We are determined to see a full fibre future in Britain.

“So, now we’re close to delivering on universal 4G and the superfast plan, that is where I want our focus to turn. To make sure we always stay those crucial few steps ahead.

“We must start work now on supplying ubiquitous 5G and fibre in the decade ahead.”

Last month, the Independent Networks Cooperative Association (INCA) said the UK should be aiming for 80% FTTP by 2026.

And Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn, launching his digital manifesto in August, promised high-speed broadband and mobile connectivity to every home in Britain under a Labour government.

Digital skills and security issues

Mr Hancock said the government will make basic digital skills training free to anyone who needs it, as more than five million people in the UK don’t have the “basic knowledge” to get online.

He also outlined the government’s plan to tackle cyber security issues in the wake of numerous high-profile attacks.

The Cyber Essentials scheme shows businesses the most basic steps they should take to protect themselves online, while the National Cyber Security Centre will help protect organisations in both the public and private sectors.

Two new innovation centres are also being launched by the Cyber Growth Partnership – a joint initiative between industry and government – as a place for start-ups to base themselves while getting expert support and advice.

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