Philip Hammond vows that every building in the UK will have access to an FTTP network within 15 years
Credit: Ben Birchall/PA
UK properties will gain access to full-fibre internet at a rate of two million a year, chancellor Philip Hammond has pledged, with every building in the country being connected within 15 years.
In a speech given at the Confederation of British Industry’s Annual Dinner in London this week, Hammond (pictured above) claimed that more than a million homes and businesses in the UK are currently connected to a fibre-to-the-premises network. About 70% of these were connected during the last 18 months, he said.
The chancellor went on to set a target of 15 million buildings having access to a full-fibre network by 2025. This, he said, would constitute the majority of UK properties. Hitting this target will require an extra two million homes and businesses being connected each year.
“We won’t do that by government diktat,” Hammond said. “We will do it by creating the conditions for the market to deliver, and we will use all the tools at the government’s disposal to ensure that target is met.”
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Ubiquitous access to full-fibre internet will be achieved by 2033, according to Hammond.
“Running both copper and fibre networks indefinitely will not benefit either the consumer or the industry,” he added. “So, we must start thinking now about that switchover and how to sharpen the incentives for industry to move customers away from copper and on to fibre.”
Elsewhere in his address, the chancellor pledged that the government will work with private industry over the coming years to try and mitigate against the possible obsolescence of jobs as a result of artificial intelligence and automation.
“The digital industrial revolution and artificial intelligence will bring about a step-change in automation,” he said. “This, in turn, will have profound implications for jobs, and the way we work. And if we want our people to embrace the digital economy, we must support them when they are affected by automation.”
The measures introduced in the coming years will include increased investment in apprenticeships and annual funding of £500m for the new vocational T-level qualifications for further-education students. The government is also working with the CBI and TUC to create a National Retraining Scheme.
Hammond said: “The digital industrial revolution will… create millions of new jobs, and huge increases in living standards. But that will not reassure those whose current jobs will be displaced. Between us in government and business, we have a vital role in managing this transition; in investing in skills and retraining, [and] in providing the reassurance our workforce will need.”