Government plans to improve UK infrastructure by opening up vast public network

The British government is opening up over 13,000 miles of publicly-owned digital networks in a bid to help improve access to high-speed broadband in areas of the country that are not well served by existing providers.

The government, realising the necessity of high speed internet in the modern age has pledged to spend at least £1.5 billion of taxpayers’ money on public sector networks and infrastructure each year.

Until recently the government didn’t even possess comprehensive information on the expanse of this infrastructure. It is only in recent times that the extent of it has been fully documented. Much of its capacity has simply gone to waste while public sectors built their own networks – at great expense.

Under the new scheme, the government will publish a map of public sector communications and digital infrastructure, revealing the true extent of the networks currently owned and leased by the government.

These networks include fibre that span the railway networks and motorways in the UK, as well as the high security defence network, the N3 network used by health and social care services and JANET, used by research and education institutions.

The government has said that it has the capacity to expand and improve access to high speed broadband, particularly in many rural areas that are currently undeserved.

“In some cases we may not need to build further infrastructure, or we may find we are able to use spare capacity to supplement and enhance existing provision and connectivity,” the Cabinet Office said. “We’re going to collaborate to get this done. The review has focused on central government, but there will be other networks that the government owns out there and we would like to use this opportunity to invite other public sector bodies to identify their infrastructure and contribute to extending coverage.”

“We want to take full advantage of this existing capacity, avoiding wasteful duplication when buying additional resource,” Cabinet Office minister Francis Maude and culture minister Ed Vaizey said in a joint foreword to the report.

More than 1,000 government owned buildings have also been identified as possible sites for erecting mobile masts to boost reception in both rural and urban areas and bring in revenue for tax payers.
The Country Land and Business Association (CLA) has also called for the government to do more to ensure that the most rural parts of the UK are prioritised for super fast broadband. As it stands, 10-15% of the population is unable to get broadband. A figure that the CLA say is unacceptable and puts those affected at a huge disadvantage.
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