Late Post

‘Litany’ of UK government failures in gigabit broadband roll-out

In a scathing criticism of the ability of the UK government, the UK’s Public Accounts Committee (PAC) has slammed the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) for a mass of general failures in its plans to roll out gigabit-capable broadband by 2025, further warning of digital inequality compounding the economic inequality “harshly” exposed by Covid-19.

Just after the Conservatives’ General Election victory in December 2019, the government outlined plans to make good on prime minister Boris Johnson’s pledge to work towards “delivering full-fibre [broadband] to every home in the land” by 2025, and then chancellor Sajid Javid committed £5bn of public funding to “support the roll-out of full-fibre, 5G and other gigabit-capable networks to the hardest-to-reach 20% of the country.”

However, by November 2020, the UK government began backtracking on its ambitious targets. When announcing his Spending Review in late November 2020, chancellor Rishi Sunak confirmed that the 2025 target for roll-out had been downgraded to 85% coverage by 2025 and the original commitment to provide £5bn of public funding for hard-to-reach areas had been reduced. This followed the PAC taking oral evidence in Parliament on 9 November 2020 from the Department for Digital, Culture, Media &