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It’s that time of year again – Budget time and as this one comes before a General Election it’s unsurprisingly packed full of promises and big ideas.

Here’s a quick summary on what it has in store for our channel:

1. Ultra-fast broadband

First they promised (and delivered) superfast broadband (mainly achieved using Openreach’s fibre broadband roll-out) and now it’s all about a new ‘ambition’ to provide ‘nearly all UK premises’ with at least 100Mbps ‘ultrafast’ broadband.

From what we can tell they haven’t quantified that statement as yet but to be fair, most of the hard work to achieve this has already been done or has been committed to by the industry. For example, Virgin Media recently announced expanding their network to reach 17 million premises by 2020 (60% coverage) and BT have recently been discussing G.fast which would also help to achieve this target.

2. A potential Univeral Service Obligation (USO) of 5Mbps

A much awaited and demanded Univeral Service Obligation could be on the cards which forms part of the Government’s commitment to delivering broadband to rural areas.

“The government will also take further action to support the delivery of broadband in rural areas, including looking to raise the Universal Service Obligation – the legal entitlement to a basic service – from dial-up speeds to 5 Mbps broadband, and subsidising the costs of installing superfast capable satellite services.”

3. Connection Voucher Scheme extended

As previously promised, the popular business broadband Connection Voucher Scheme has been extended to March 2016 and will be available across 50 cities by 1st April 2015.

4. Internet of Things (IoT)

They don’t appear to have provided much detail on this yet but have stated they will invest £40 million in the Internet of Things and committed £140 million into research for smart cities. The budget coincided with the publication of the Government’s Digital Communications Infrastructure Strategy which includes a review of the current use of IPv6 in the UK.

5. £600 million pledged towards clearing the mobile spectrum

This money is pledged to support the change of use for the 700MHz spectrum, freeing up this spectrum for use by 4G services through future auctions and potentially improving reception throughout the UK.

Entanet’s Opinion

Unfortunately, as is always the case with these headline speeches, little actual detail has been provided at this stage and we fear the devil could be in the detail – or is that just the cynic in us?

However, as a starting point it all sounds pretty positive, increasing the broadband delivery targets to 100Mbps with ultra-fast broadband is great news for the channel. The previous superfast roll-out continues to generate profitable opportunities for the reseller channel as customer’s take full advantage of fibre broadband being available in their areas. Hopefully a similar upgrade to ‘ultra-fast’ broadband will have a similar effect, although we are keen to see the coverage targets for this and how they plan to achieve them – are they just relying on the likes of Virgin Media and BT to continue their existing plans?

With regards to the USO, we have repeatedly supported calls for a broadband USO to ensure a minimum level of service across the UK and whilst at this stage they only commit to ‘looking at’ it as a possibility, it is at least a start. We’re trying not to get our hopes up for this one but would welcome such a move in an attempt to eradicate the UK’s not-spots. One to watch we feel…

We’re similarly pleased to have the extension of the connections voucher confirmed which has proven to be very popular amongst our channel and of course the investment into IoT and the 700MHz spectrum is also welcome progress for the industry.

All in all, not a bad effort. Although we keenly await further details.

Have your say!

What are your initial reactions to this year’s budget? Do you welcome the plans for ‘ultra-fast broadband, a USO and investment into IoT? How do you think these plans will affect your business? Let us know your thoughts by leaving us a comment below.

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