Entanet has dismissed the announcement in Wednesday’s Autumn Statement that £400 million is to be invested in a new Digital Infrastructure Investment Fund, as ‘a damp squib’ and little more than political manoeuvring.
It has also called for much more detail to be provided on what the fund aims to achieve, how and on what basis funds will be allocated, and what assurances will be given that investment will be committed to projects. The company has further concerns over the relatively small scale of the funding, which is to be spread over four years, and points out that it is unlikely to do anything to bridge the so-called ‘digital divide’ or deliver new services to rural areas.
In an opinion piece on its website, the company states: “Overall the Autumn Statement was something of a damp squib. The measures suggested don’t go far enough, lack depth and detail and will, in our view, have little impact on long-term investment in fibre infrastructure. In the end, it looks rather too much like political manoeuvring and posturing, when what’s needed is decisive and effective support. Currently, only two percent of UK premises have access to full-fibre connections compared to an EU average of about 20 percent. This is not going to change anything fast.”
Entanet wants to see more realistic and definitive support and a complete suspension of rates on fibre investment to help encourage investment. “It needs to be easier and less expensive for companies to invest in long-term communications infrastructure projects. Without that, the UK has little hope of becoming the digital leader it aspires to be in the 2020s”, it concludes.