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Next steps for delivering gigabit-capable broadband - rollout and reach targets, regulation, investment, competition, customer uptake, and economic impact

Morning, Tuesday, 2nd November 2021

***Full-scale policy conference taking place online***

This conference will discuss progress, key issues and next steps for meeting the Government’s targets for delivering gigabit capable broadband.

It takes place alongside Project Gigabit with £5bn from the Government aiming to deliver gigabit-capable broadband to at least 85% of UK premises by 2025.

Delegates will discuss Ofcom’s decisions on the regulatory framework to relating to competition and investment in fibre networks, and the work of the DCMS Gigabit Take-up Advisory Group (GigaTAG).

We are pleased to be able to include keynote sessions with David Clarkson, Director, Competition Policy, Ofcom; and James Heath, Chief Executive Officer, National Infrastructure Commission.

The agenda will bring out latest thinking on:

  • regulation - the future framework for the wholesale telecoms market and what it means for broadband delivery across the UK
  • rollout - progress and key issues for meeting the Government’s 2025 target for gigabit broadband coverage, with discussion on investment, infrastructure, planning and practical challenges
  • competition - looking at the impact of the 2025 target on the market, the supply chain and associated retail services
  • wider impact - unlocking the broader benefits of gigabit broadband and the potential role of ultrafast connectivity in supporting economic development, regional growth and decarbonisation
  • uptake - key issues and priorities for broadband customers including improving reliability, coverage, reducing not-spots, and enabling simple switching

The agenda:

  • Progress in delivering gigabit-capable broadband across the UK, key issues, and options going forward
  • Addressing practical challenges for meeting the Government’s rollout target - planning, infrastructure, and improving connectivity for hard-to-reach areas
  • Priorities for fostering competition and investment, and delivering gigabit broadband to 85% of UK premises by 2025
  • Priorities for delivering gigabit capable and full-fibre broadband for homes and communities across all of the UK
  • Improving customer take-up of full-fibre broadband - innovation in service offerings, demonstrating benefit, affordability and social tariffs, marketing clarity and transparency, and supporting consumer choice and switching
  • Broadband as part of the next National Infrastructure Assessment and facilitating the development of telecoms infrastructure to support long-term growth

A scan of relevant developments:

  • Project Gigabit - the government project to deliver broadband to everyone in the UK:
    • with £5bn in funding, including up to £110m being made available to connect public sector buildings, such as GP surgeries, schools and libraries in hard-to-reach areas of the UK
    • Project Gigabit in the context of wider aims to connect the UK as set out in the National Infrastructure Strategy
    • government aims to have delivered gigabit-capable broadband to at least 85% of UK premises by 2025
  • Promoting competition and investment in fibre networks: Wholesale Fixed Telecoms Market Review 2021-26 - Ofcom’s review of the regulatory framework to promote competition and investment
  • New plans for seamless broadband switching - Ofcom proposing a consumer-friendly, ‘one touch’ broadband switching procedure, with new rules coming into force in December 2022
    • following Ofcom research that shows that four in ten people who decide against switching are put off by the hassle of needing to contact more than one provider
    • two options have been presented by industry, a ‘One Touch Switch’ process and a ‘Code to Switch’ Process, with a decision on the method to be introduced expected by Ofcom this summer
  • the Gigabit Take-up Advisory Group (GigaTAG):
    • convened by DCMS to advise on a strategic, evidence based approach to stimulate demand for gigabit-capable broadband connections among consumers and businesses
    • made up of representatives from: Which?; the CBI; the FSB; the BSG; the ISPA; and Be the Business, with both Ofcom and DCMS to act as observers
  • GigaTAG’s interim report - identifying consumer barriers to adoption as a lack of awareness of gigabit-capable broadband, little perceived benefit of gigabit-capable broadband, and the ‘hassle’ related to switching
  • the Internet Access Bill - a Private Members’ Bill on extending a universal service obligation for internet, sponsored by the Labour MP Darren Jones:
    • following increased calls from the opposition MPs and industry for the government to introduce social tariffs for customers on low incomes, as well as to:
      • extend the universal service obligation for internet providers to include mobile internet access
      • make requirements regarding internet access for children eligible for free school meals
      • require the Secretary of State to report to Parliament on progress in reducing digital inequalities
  • Gigabit broadband reaches one in four homes - Ofcom’s connected nations report finding that eight million UK homes can now access gigabit-speed broadband
  • Improving broadband for Very Hard to Reach premises - DCMS consultation on improving broadband access for rural and remote areas of the UK, seeking views and experiences of consumers’ broadband connectivity

Key areas for discussion:

Project Gigabit and rolling out gigabit capable broadband:

  • progress and future outlook - with roll out reportedly on track for half of all UK households to have gigabit broadband by the end of 2021:
    • priorities and key issues for delivery into the future
    • implications going forward for implementing the Government’s target to have made available gigabit-capable broadband to at least 85% of UK premises by 2025
    • measuring and reporting progress, and what is needed to keep up the pace in delivery
  • improving connectivity for hard-to-reach places - lessons that can be taken forward from the Government’s consultation, and what they mean for Project Gigabit
  • infrastructure, planning and engineering - key priorities and outstanding issues, the planning for engagement and coordination with local stakeholders, and minimising service disruption
  • facilitating competition:
    • examining options, including possible different approaches to be taken depending on existing competition in the area
    • the impact of the 2025 target on the market, the supply chain and associated retail services
  • maintaining service standards - priorities for maintaining quality-of-service safeguards

Priorities for delivering gigabit capable and full-fibre broadband to the UK’s mobile not-spots:

  • mobile infrastructure - evaluating how current projects, such as 5G and the Shared Rural Network, feed into the overall strategy of delivering broadband for hard-to-reach areas
  • the wholesale telecoms market - implications of the roll out of gigabit-broadband to the UK’s not-spots for the market’s future, and the priorities for delivering gigabit capable broadband

Improving consumer take-up of full-fibre broadband

  • affordability - including plans for social tariffs, with the Internet Access Bill currently in Parliament
  • communication to consumers - latest thinking on introducing clear, consistent labelling of broadband packages
  • broadband switching:
    • assessing the merits of each of the two current proposals presented by industry: the ‘One Touch Switch’ process, and the ‘Code to Switch’ process
    • consider other options that could address the numbers of consumers who decide against switching are put off by the hassle of having to contact multiple providers
  • the Gigabit Take-up Advisory Group (GigaTAG) - what should the group’s priorities be as they advise on the strategic approach for stimulating demand for gigabit-broadband connections

Priorities for the next National Infrastructure Assessment:

  • development - supporting the implementation of telecoms infrastructure to enable long-term growth
  • opportunities - the long-term outlook of the role of gigabit-enabled broadband in supporting economic development, regional growth and decarbonisation

Policy officials attending:

Our forums are known for attracting strong interest from policymakers and stakeholders.

Overall, we expect speakers and attendees to be a senior and informed group including Members of both Houses of Parliament, senior government and regulatory officials involved in this area of policy, as well as from other stakeholders from across the telecoms and digital sectors, including telecoms companies and their advisors, internet service providers, mobile operators, law firms, technology and innovation platforms, IT and systems developers, consumer bodies, data use and protection specialists, professional service providers, researchers from academia and higher education, together with reporters from the national and specialist media.

This is a full-scale conference taking place online***

  • full, four-hour programme including comfort breaks - you’ll also get a full recording and transcript to refer back to
  • information-rich discussion involving key policymakers and stakeholders
  • conference materials provided in advance, including speaker biographies
  • speakers presenting via webcam, accompanied by slides if they wish, using the Cisco WebEx professional online conference platform (easy for delegates - we’ll provide full details)
  • opportunities for live delegate questions and comments with all speakers
  • a recording of the addresses, all slides cleared by speakers, and further materials, is made available to all delegates afterwards as a permanent record of the proceedings
  • delegates are able to add their own written comments and articles following the conference, to be distributed to all attendees and more widely
  • too - there will be opportunities for delegates to e-meet and interact - we’ll tell you how!

Full information and guidance on how to take part will be sent to delegates before the conference

Keynote Speaker

James Heath

Chief Executive Officer, National Infrastructure Commission

Keynote Speakers

David Clarkson

Director, Competition Policy, Ofcom

James Heath

Chief Executive Officer, National Infrastructure Commission


Kevin Hollinrake MP

Vice Chair, Parliamentary Internet, Communications and Technology Forum

Selaine Saxby MP

Chair, All-Party Parliamentary Group on Broadband and Digital Communication


Rajesh Sennik

Partner, Value Creation Practice Lead, KPMG UK

Catherine Colloms

MD of Corporate Affairs & Brand, Openreach

Senior representative confirmed from TalkTalk

Alex Blowers

Director, Regulatory Affairs, CityFibre