The government has published details of over 13,000 miles of publically owned digital infrastructure that could be used to boost connectivity across the country.
The Interim Landscape report found that, by improving the way existing network infrastructure is used, the government could tackle connectivity issues such as access to high-speed broadband and the removal of mobile ‘not-spots'.
Part of the report includes an interim map which outlines the scale and coverage of the main networks owned and leased by the government.
The map (pictured) outlines the location of the following networks:
- Fibre cable running alongside UK railways, which the government claims is one of the UK's largest backhaul networks with substantial spare capacity
- Fibre cable alongside England's motorway network
- A defence network for secure voice, data and video services across the UK
- The N3 network connecting health and social care sites
- A UK-wide fixed fibre facility linking universities and colleges, called JANET
The government said it spends at least £1.5bn a year on public sector networks, which includes raising new signal masts and laying fibre optics and other cabling, and the report will shed light on areas where that money could be better spent.
The report will also highlight areas where spare infrastructure capacity has been underused at a cost to the taxpayer, particularly in situations where public sector organisations have made their own duplicative and expensive bespoke networks and technology.
Several ways in which the government could improve its use of infrastructure are highlighted in the report.
One example included putting mobile telephone reception masts on some of the 1,000 government-owned buildings to tackle poor mobile reception in rural or heavily built up areas of the UK.
Outgoing Cabinet Office minister Francis Maude noted the need for this level of network transparency as a way for the government to meet its long-term economic plans and ensure, "Britain has world-class digital infrastructure".
"In the past government didn't even know what telecoms and digital infrastructure the public sector itself owned. Our new maps reveal taxpayer-funded networks stretching right across the country," said Maude.
"We will work with providers to exploit spare capacity while joining-up our own approach, so more people can access high-speed broadband and better mobile phone coverage."
Ed Vaizey minister of state for culture and the digital economy, echoed Maude's comments, adding: "This report will be instrumental in driving savings whilst ensuring that value for money and improvements to digital infrastructure are maximised."
Despite facing political and physical hurdles in its drive to improve UK connectivity, the government has recently boasted 1.5 million superfast broadband connected premises.
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