On the launch of project gigabit in March 2021, which set out plans to deliver gigabit-capable networks to hard-to-reach areas, the government also published a call for evidence on improving broadband for "very hard to reach premises" – that is, premises (estimated to be less than 100,000 in total) in very remote places that may be too expensive to build a gigabit-capable broadband network to, even with substantial public subsidy.
The purpose of the call for evidence was to explore the barriers to improving broadband to premises in these areas, which are mainly located in remote and isolated locations in Scotland and Wales, and some national parks in England, and to explore how innovative new technologies might help change this.
The government sought more information on:
- demand – consumer and business demand for broadband services in very hard to reach areas. In particular, information on current provision and adoption patterns by consumers and businesses in these areas, including businesses in the agricultural sector;
- benefits – further evidence on the benefits that delivering enhanced broadband services to very hard to reach areas yields, including social, environmental or economic benefits;
- barriers – evidence of barriers to user adoption (other than services being unavailable in an area), and evidence relating to barriers that may impede infrastructure operators and service providers from offering improved broadband services in these areas, as well as evidence relating to barriers to investment (for parties providing finance for such investments); and
- approaches – evidence relating to the availability, maturity, capabilities and costs of advanced technologies and novel approaches to provide connectivity in very hard to reach areas, either within the United Kingdom or from overseas.
The government has now published an analysis of the responses it received, outlining the key points made, drawing out the common themes that have emerged and the most frequently expressed points of view.
Based on the evidence gathered, the government says that it will produce a set of policy proposals in due course that will set out how it expects the market in these areas to develop and what further actions might be needed to address the needs of these premises.
For further information on this topic please contact Gordon Moir at Wiggin by telephone (+44 20 7612 9612) or email ([email protected]). The Wiggin website can be accessed at www.wiggin.co.uk.