Spring Budget Announcement 2017
Philip Hammond delivered his first Spring Budget as Chancellor, which contained many technology, telecommunication and broadband related news, building on the budget statement he made last Autumn. Spring revealed a number of funding opportunities for the technology industry including
- £16m to create a 5G hub to trial the forthcoming mobile data technology. Although 5G currently does not yet exist, it is expected to surpass 4G to provide faster data uploads and downloads.
- £200m to support local ‘full-fibre’ broadband network projects that are designed to help further private sector investment.
- £270m to help put the UK at the forefront of disruptive technologies including robotics, biotech and driverless vehicle systems.
- A fund to create 1000 new PhD and fellowship positions in science, technology, engineering and mathematics.
Within the Budget speech, the Chancellor also announced several improvements for broadband connectivity in the UK following on from significant broadband related developments in the last budget. The current broadband developments include the £1.7bn Broadband Delivery UK programme which is expected to put fixed line superfast broadband 24Mbps+ networks within reach of 95% of premises by the end of 2017 as well as the proposal for a legally binding Universal Service Obligation (USO) for broadband. The Government also confirmed that their previously announced Digital Infrastructure Investment Fund is due to be launched this Spring 2017.
Aside from all the good news, tucked away in the less mentioned budget coverage was a small but significant change to roaming charges. Hammond stated that roaming charges for British Citizens travelling outside the EU will now be subject to VAT, adding 20% to the current charges overnight. While this can be reclaimed by businesses, it represents a significant uplift for individual consumers. It is currently unclear how or when this will happen, but we will keep you posted.