Insights Government publishes detailed overview of the Gigabit Infrastructure Subsidy scheme

The Future Telecoms Infrastructure Review (FTIR) was published in July 2018 and laid out a vision for a full fibre and 5G future for the UK, highlighting the considerable potential benefits to the UK.

The key findings of the FTIR were that, despite over 97% coverage of superfast broadband, largely based on copper user connections, the UK was in danger of falling behind on rolling out fibre and 5G connections. It proposed a more proactive approach than has been taken historically in the UK.

As part of a wider range of measures under the Project Gigabit, the FTIR proposed an “outside in” procurement approach, named the Gigabit Infrastructure Subsidy. In essence, the FTIR says, this procurement approach seeks to minimise market distortion by relying on industry to build where it makes commercial sense to do so. Rather than wait for this process to run its course, FTIR recommends that the Government identify the non-commercial areas, expected to be at the outside of the networks, and to build to these premises in parallel to commercial build , seeking to provide gigabit-capable connectivity across all areas of the UK at the same time, ensuring no areas are systematically left behind.

Under the United Kingdom/European Union Withdrawal Agreement of October 2019, all awards made prior to the end of the Transition Period (31 December 2020) continue to fall under the State Aid regime for a period of four years and need to be managed in accordance with the rules in that period.

This also applies for future procurements and awards made under the Superfast Broadband Programme. The Government is developing the UK Gigabit Programme within the UK Subsidy Control Regime and has now published a detailed overview of the approach. To access the overview, click here.