Budget 2018: UK chancellor pledges £250m to boost rural broadband

In his latest budget, UK Chancellor Philip Hammond has announced £250m will be used to provide rural areas with superfast broadband.

Poor rural connectivity has held back certain areas from the rest of the nation.

The funding boost will target rural schools and libraries to ensure they have access to ‘full fibre’ connectivity.

DCMS Secretary of State Jeremy Wright said:

"Through our modern Industrial Strategy, it’s our ambition to have a full fibre Britain that is fit for the future.

By changing our approach and investing in the hardest to reach places first, we will ensure that the whole country can reap the benefits of full fibre broadband."

Full fibre is considered FTTP (Fibre-to-the-Premises) which offers greater speed and reliability than FTTC (Fibre-to-the-Cabinet) used for most broadband connections today.

Chancellor Hammond said:

"For 21st-century broadband is to roads in the 20th, railways in the 19th, and canals in the 18th. It's the network infrastructure that will make this country work."

Ahead of the budget, the National Farmers' Union (NFU) set out eight demands from the budget from a rural business perspective.

One of the NFU’s demands was: “Ensure the rollout of superfast broadband to all farmers, growers and rural communities, alongside complete mobile phone coverage at a reasonable cost.”

In a survey last year, just nine percent of farmers said they receive broadband speeds of 24Mbps or more. Only 15 percent said they had reliable access to a mobile signal across their farms.

The other major tech announcement in the budget is a digital services tax. Hammond says it will be “narrowly targeted” on UK-generated revenues of specific firms, rather than UK tech startups. He expects it will raise around £400m per year.

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