Ofcom to see operators’ gigabit broadband rollout plans under law changes

Ofcom is to be granted new powers to share details with the Government on where network operators plan to build gigabit-capable broadband under planned law changes announced on Wednesday.

The plans form part of the Government’s scheme to boost connectivity across the UK and provide coverage to more areas.

The Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) said under the proposed law changes, Ofcom will be able to gather data from broadband companies on where they plan to deploy gigabit broadband and share this with the Government, as well as publish data about areas where the rollout of those networks is not currently planned.

The DCMS said the new powers will enable the Government to use this information to help decide where to spend £5 billion of funding pledged to roll out faster broadband.

It said it would also help encourage the rollout of gigabit broadband in areas where it is not yet planned.

Digital infrastructure minister Matt Warman said: “We’re investing billions so no part of the UK is left behind by the opportunities and economic benefits that faster, more reliable and more secure digital connectivity brings.

“These changes will help target public funding in hard-to-reach areas most in need of better broadband.”

Separately, the Government also announced it was pushing ahead with plans to reform planning laws to make it easier for mobile network operators to share and upgrade mobile phone masts, in an effort to speed up the rollout of 5G and help improve 4G coverage in rural areas.