Funding could signal end to UK's digital divide

£400 funding welcomed
New investment could signal end to digital divide

23 November 2016 

  • ·Optical communications expert welcomes £400m boost
  • ·Funding could go long way to tackling digital divide in UK
  • ·Economy could get major uplift if investment targeted

Aston University’s Chair of Optical Communications has welcomed Chancellor Philip Hammond's announcement that the Government will invest £400m in fibre to the premises in the Autumn Statement.

Professor Andrew Ellis comments: “The proposed investment could go a long way to tackling the digital divide that currently exists in the UK, as long as it is targeted in the right way.

“Technologies such as G.Fast, recently developed by major industry players, will serve cities and other densely populated places sufficiently where distances to the nearest cabinets are relatively small, so Government needs to focus its investment in areas less likely to be served by these initiatives. If targeted at traditionally harder-to-reach areas such as rural districts and market towns, this investment fund could give the economy a major boost.

“The commercial case for infrastructure development is lower outside urban areas, where service variability is also greatest, but the potential for economy growth is just as great. This means investment may need to be focused on larger operators that already have existing customers in these less densely populated areas.

“The Government rightly recognises that ‘fibre-to-the-property’ is the future, with technical capabilities of commercial solutions far outstripping even the promised capacity of alternative options. Unlike ‘fibre to the roadside cabinet’, which has been the focus of investment so far, providing fibre to the property removes the distance dependence of broadband and offers significantly higher speeds. This will eliminate the confusion of “up to” speeds which plague disappointed internet users.”


For more information, or to request an interview, please contact: Mohammed Sheriff: / 020 7089 2084 or 07557 426028 or  Jo Nussbaum: / 07500 013062

Notes to Editors

About Andrew Ellis 

Andrew Ellis is Professor of Optical Communications at Aston University

About Aston University

Founded in 1895 and a University since 1966, Aston University  has always been a force for change. For 50 years the University has been transforming lives through pioneering research, innovative teaching and graduate employability success. Aston is renowned for its opportunity enabler through broad access and inspiring academics, providing education that is applied and has real impact on all areas of society, business and industry.  True to Aston’s Coat of Arms which bears the word ‘Forward’, in 2016 Aston will hold a year-long anniversary celebration to recognise its heritage and achievements, but with a focus to drive forward the next stage in the University’s exciting journey.

Aston's  Vice Chancellor and Chief Executive, Professor Alec Cameron, is the principal academic and executive officer of the University. Alec has overall responsibility for Aston's executive management and day-to-day direction.