Addressing the Broadband Stakeholder Group 2017 Conference, Minister for Digital Matt Hancock spoke about the strides Britain is making in becoming a full fibre nation.
A year earlier, Hancock outlined the UK Government's plans to roll out fibre connectivity across the country. His latest speech was centred on progress.
"I want to talk about the exciting momentum that is building in this industry and about our plans for the future," he told delegates as he opened his talk.
While Brexit remains a dark shadow over the country's economy, Hancock attempted to differentiate the UK from other major countries based on its digital infrastructure.
He capitalised on the recent Global Connectivity Index published by Huawei, which ranked Britain in the top five of 50 major countries in terms of connectivity.
"Our superfast connectivity is the best in Europe.Our economy has the biggest digital economy, by proportion, of major nations, and we have one of the highest percentages of individual Internet usage," he said.
The government's focus, he said, has been on digitising the British economy. He spoke about the importance of businesses investing in the latest technologies.
"This is in no small part because Government has strongly supported the digitalisation of the economy, and made sure the business environment is friendly to new innovations and the growth of the market," he said.
His talk wasn't just heavy on political rhetoric, though. To demonstrate recent progress, he chucked a plethora of impressive statistics and numbers at the audience.
"We have announced that up to £645m is to be made available to help take superfast broadband coverage to 98 per cent of the nation over the next few years," he said.
"In total we are investing £1.1bn in our digital infrastructure to support the next generation of fast and reliable mobile and broadband communications for consumers and businesses.
"And to support businesses we are introducing 100% business rates relief for operators who install new fibre on their networks.
The minister addressed the state of superfast broadband as well. He said that this technology is available to 94 per cent of premises around the country, and the stat will grow to 95 per cent by the end of 2017. And 4G growth also continues to grow.
"The Connectivity Index also predicts that, as these amazing digital technologies advance, our advantage will drive future economic growth. That's one economic forecast I am prepared to make," he said.
The next generation of mobile connectivity, 5G, was also at the top of the agenda. He commented on the government's 5G strategy, unveiled in this year's Budget.
"In October, we launched a competition to select a number of projects to be funded in 2018/19 as part of the 5G Testbeds & Trials programme," he said.
"This first phase of the programme will help encourage the development of a 5G ecosystem in the UK and builds on the foundations laid by our investment in the 5G university research announced at the Budget.
"As with full fibre, our aim is to demonstrate the benefits 5G can deliver for businesses and how new applications and services can be developed using 5G technology."
The separation of BT and Openreach came up in the talk, too. "We have agreed on the separation of BT and Openreach," Hancock told the audience.
"Openreach has established its independent board and declared its clear direction in the pursuit of the full fibre future."
But is everyone so optimistic? Marc Agnew, VP of communications firm ViaSat Europe, said that these claims are bold and that the government should set more realistic targets.
"Industry observers were quick to cast doubts over the UK Government's claim that 95 per cent of the country would receive superfast broadband service by the end of this year," he said.
"The UK digital strategy's targets for broadband rollout were clearly overly optimistic. You only need to read Ofcom's latest standards on internet performance claims to see the difference between areas that are covered and those that actually have a usable broadband service.
"Investment in broadband is just the start, and much more needs to be done to ensure we have effective broadband policies.
"The Government also has to be careful that its hyper-fast strategy doesn't widen the existing rift between broadband haves and have-nots in the UK. Fibre alone, while offering hyper-fast speeds in the right circumstances, will never reach every household without being prohibitively expensive."
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