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The government reviews future telecoms infrastructure investment

Matteo Natalucci Published 29 November 2017

DCMS will undertake an in-depth review of the telecoms market, to understand companies’ incentives for investment in new digital infrastructure


The Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) will be leading a review of the UK’s telecoms markets, to identify options for incentivising investment in future digital infrastructure.

The review, “The Cross-government Future Telecoms Infrastructure Review”, aims to establish a clear evidence base to determine the best policy to improve the deployment of full fibre networks and to support the connectivity of homes and businesses while providing the backbone for a denser 5G mobile network.

The study will consider the types of competition that different parts of the telecoms market in different areas of the UK can support, with implications for the level and makeup of investment.

The review will be set against the government’s work to improve the business case for future infrastructure investment through the Local Full Fibre Networks and 5G Test Beds and Trials programmes, the Digital Infrastructure Investment Fund, business rates relief for fibre networks, and the setup of a Barrier Busting Task Force. It will also take into account the likely future developments in the regulation of the telecoms market such as Ofcom’s existing initiatives to drive competition and investment in future digital infrastructure.

In particular the Review will assess:

  • how investment incentives vary between different areas of the UK and across different parts of the telecoms market;
  • what policy changes government should consider to encourage greater investment in new digital infrastructure. These may include encouraging greater competition, other measures that can increase the attractiveness of investment through changes in the relative risks and returns, or direct government intervention.
  • the barriers to investment in digital infrastructure and next-generation digital connectivity, now and over the coming decades including cost, levels of demand, market structures and regulation;

As part of its work the review will seek to address key questions that could affect the evolution of the UK’s digital infrastructure such as the ongoing convergence between fixed and mobile technologies and the transition from copper to full fibre networks.

The government aims to create the conditions for connectivity that is ultrafast, reliable, long-lasting and widely available to UK homes and businesses.

DCMS will be seeking a wide range of evidence, including from across industry and the investor community, and will shortly be issuing a Call for Evidence.

Matt Hancock, minister of state for Digital said, “Government has already committed more than £1bn to supporting a business case for investment in full fibre and 5G networks through investment programmes and initiatives like our Barrier Busting Task Force.”

Hancock added, “We’d like to build on what has been achieved so far, by removing future barriers before they arise, and ensuring that market and policy conditions are as good as they can be to maximise investment in new technologies.”

A report, to be published in Summer 2018, will identify options available to government to promote an attractive and stable environment for investment.

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