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UK Digital Strategy

The UK Government recognises the transformative power of digital technology, and its impact on various aspects of our society, economy, and global standing. To secure a prosperous future, it is imperative for the UK to strengthen its position as a Global Science and Tech Superpower. Building upon existing advantages, such as robust digital infrastructure, leading universities, and a thriving tech ecosystem, the government is committed to fostering an environment that supports digital innovation, attracts investment, and creates high-skilled jobs. Discover the: UK Digital Strategy

Through strategic initiatives, including the rollout of world-class digital infrastructure, implementation of a pro-growth regulatory regime, protection of tech intellectual property, and investment in research and development, the UK aims to unlock the full potential of its digital economy. By prioritising the development of digital skills and talent, fostering collaborations between academia and industry, and ensuring access to global talent, the UK will become the best place in the world to start and grow technology businesses. Embracing this vision and undertaking necessary actions, it is estimated that the UK tech sector’s annual gross value added could increase by £41.5 billion by 2025, accompanied by the creation of approximately 678,000 new jobs.

The DSIT is leading an ambitious programme of work to both accelerate the commercial delivery of nationwide gigabit broadband and ensure rural areas are not left behind. Thanks to our policies to encourage competition and investment, and remove barriers to deployment, industry is investing over £30 billion in one of the fastest broadband rollouts in Europe. Our aim is to achieve at least 85% gigabit coverage by 2025 and at least 99% gigabit coverage by 2030. The UK is also making significant progress in rolling out wireless connectivity, with 92% of the UK landmass currently covered by a good 4G signal from at least one operator. The Shared Rural Network will further improve coverage for 280,000 premises and 16,000km of roads, with the biggest anticipated coverage improvements in rural Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales.

Beyond 4G, our ambition is that the majority of the population will have access to a 5G signal by 2027. DSIT has invested almost £200 million in UK telecoms innovation, through the 5G Testbeds and Trials programme (5GTT), helping to establish our global leadership in this area, and supporting industry, academic institutions and local authorities to realise the benefits of 5G.

Building Digital UK

BDUK is responsible for implementing gigabit-capable broadband and expanding 4G mobile coverage in hard-to-reach areas of the UK. The team at BDUK collaborate with suppliers and communities to ensure that people have access to fast and reliable digital connectivity that can improve their lives. It has two main programs: Project Gigabit and the Shared Rural Network. Project Gigabit is a £5 billion government initiative to provide lightning-fast broadband to communities that would otherwise miss out on connectivity. They are launching contracts on a local, regional, and cross-regional level to target areas not covered by commercial suppliers. They also offer financial assistance through the Gigabit Broadband Voucher Scheme and invest in connecting public sector buildings through GigaHubs. The Shared Rural Network is a £1 billion deal with four mobile network operators to improve 4G coverage across the UK. This investment in phone masts will enhance connectivity for additional premises and roads, benefiting both individuals and businesses. The improved 4G coverage will support economic growth and enable people to stay connected and access online services wherever they are in the country.

Find out more: Building Digital UK – GOV.UK (www.gov.uk)

Wireless Infrastructure Strategy

The UK Government recognises the importance of accurate mobile coverage reporting and the frustration that arises when user experiences do not meet expectations. Accurate coverage information is crucial for consumers to make informed choices, policymakers to make decisions, and network operators to plan investments. Inadequate reporting of coverage hinders connectivity improvement in rural areas and highlights the need for network enhancements nationwide. Ofcom’s current coverage measurement relies on predictive models submitted by mobile network operators (MNOs), which may not accurately reflect real-world experiences due to factors like network capacity, handset capabilities, signal interference, and local geographical conditions. Indoor coverage reporting also lacks accuracy as it applies an average building entry loss factor to all buildings, disregarding variations in signal penetration due to different building materials. To address these issues, we have asked Ofcom to enhance coverage reporting through increased use of crowd-sourced data and on-the-ground signal testing. We have also requested that Ofcom report on standalone 5G coverage deployment to track progress towards our 2030 goal of standalone coverage in all populated areas. Additionally, Ofcom is committed to reporting on performance indicators that determine user quality of experience and using this information to support customer choice, promote network investment, and improve quality.

Find out more: UK Wireless Infrastructure Strategy – GOV.UK (www.gov.uk)

Project Gigabit

Project Gigabit is a £5 billion government program aimed at providing lightning-fast, gigabit-capable broadband to hard-to-reach communities in the UK. It specifically targets homes and businesses that are not covered by existing broadband suppliers’ plans, ensuring that these areas do not miss out on essential digital connectivity. The program aims to level up rural and remote communities, as well as address pockets of poor connectivity in urban areas. The fast and reliable connections delivered by Project Gigabit will enable households to enjoy uninterrupted bandwidth, promote flexible living and working arrangements, boost productivity for businesses, and enhance the delivery of vital public services. The program also ensures that the UK has future-proof broadband infrastructure that can meet the needs of its citizens for many years to come.

In addition to the procurement and contracts for gigabit-capable broadband, Project Gigabit includes three other elements. The Gigabit Broadband Voucher Scheme provides up to £210 million in financial assistance to eligible rural areas, allowing them to access gigabit speeds. The scheme is accessible through registered broadband service providers. The GigaHubs initiative offers up to £110 million to connect public sector buildings, such as GP surgeries, libraries, and schools, in hard-to-reach areas. Finally, the Superfast Programme, which is largely gigabit-capable, aims to reach the remaining premises with broadband speeds of less than 30 Mbps. The program has approved new contracts worth £490 million, providing mainly gigabit-capable coverage to an additional 172,000 premises.

Discover more: Project Gigabit – GOV.UK (www.gov.uk)


UK Telecoms Innovation Network

The UK Telecoms Innovation Network (UKTIN) is the innovation network for the UK telecoms sector bringing together industry, government stakeholders and academia to catalyse R&D investment, cooperation and commercialisation.

UKTIN is an innovation network in the UK telecoms sector that aims to bring together industry, academia, and government stakeholders to drive research, development, and commercialisation in telecoms. It is delivered by a consortium of four partners: Digital Catapult, Cambridge Wireless, University of Bristol, and WM5G. The network’s mission is to transform the UK’s telecoms innovation ecosystem by capitalizing on the country’s strengths in technology, academia, and entrepreneurialism and positioning it for growth in the industry. UKTIN aims to connect businesses and organisations involved in telecoms R&D and innovation, providing a neutral and inclusive forum for collaboration and knowledge sharing. Initially funded by DSIT, UKTIN will support supply chain development in UK telecoms and strengthen capabilities in open telecoms, attract overseas companies and talent, catalyse investment, and promote UK capabilities internationally. With the telecoms market evolving with technologies like Open RAN and AI, UKTIN aims to unlock innovation and growth opportunities, making the UK telecoms sector thriving and internationally significant.

Find out more: The UK Telecoms Innovation Network (UKTIN)