The project is designed to help cut costs and improve broadband and mobile signals in rural areas.
While more than 96% of UK premises have access to superfast broadband, providing download speeds of at least 24 Mbps, just 12% of the UK has access to faster speeds via full-fibre broadband so this new fund has been launched to investigate how a million kilometres of underground utility ducts could be used to boost the rollout of next-generation broadband.
Civil works, in particular installing new ducts and poles, can make up as much as four fifths of the costs to industry of building new gigabit-capable broadband networks. Broadband cables have already been deployed in water pipes in other countries including Spain.
The announcement comes as it looks like the government’s ambition to provide next-generation fibre broadband to every home by 2025 will be missed, so making use of the vast network of pipes that already reach almost every building in the UK seems like a sensible idea.