Businesses to get 1,000 Mbps broadband in £10m pilot

Ethernet plug with fiber optic wire

Six regions around the UK are trialling broadband speeds of up to one gigabit-per-second (1,000 Mbps) as part of a 200 million scheme to provide businesses, schools and hospitals with faster data connections.

The pilots started in Scotland and England yesterday, which will see full-fibre cables running straight to businesses' premises. That's instead of the existing practice of running fast connections to roadside cabinets, resulting in a bottleneck where traffic is routed to customers via old-fashioned copper wires.

It is the first stage of a four-year plan unveiled by chancellor Philip Hammond as part of the National Productivity Investment Fund announced in the Spring Budget, and the scheme is designed to expand full-fibre access across the UK.

Full-fibre connections will provide significantly higher speeds than the 10Mbps standard currently recommended by Ofcom.

The government has allocated the trials 10 million of the 200 million funding, focusing on West Sussex, Coventry and Warwickshire, West Yorkshire, Greater Manchester, Aberdeen and Aberdeenshire, and Bristol and Bath & North East Somerset.

Andrew Jones, exchequer secretary to the Treasury, said in a statement: "How we live and work today is directly affected by how good our broadband connection is. Reliable connections enable new industries to flourish, help create jobs and give people flexibility in how and where they work.

"For our economy to thrive, it is vital we make smart investments to ensure our digital infrastructure is world class and fit for the future."

Using full fibre, businesses should be able to reach more customers online and increase transactions because they would be able to handle large file transfers much faster, the government said.

Digital minister Matt Hancock added: "We want to see more commercial investment in the gold standard connectivity that full fibre provides, and these innovative pilots will help create the right environment for this to happen.

"To keep Britain as the digital world leader that it is, we need to have the right infrastructure in place to allow us to keep up with the rapid advances in technology now and in the future."

The government aims to spend the remaining 190 million by 2020-2021.

It now claims its broadband delivery programme has reached 93% of businesses and households around the UK, and aims to provide the superfast broadband to 95% of households by the end of 2017. However, a recent study found that the UK's broadband coverage is slower than 30 other countries.