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Chancellor George Osborne's Autumn Statement 2015 (Spending Review) has hinted at plans for a new investment fund for alternative network providers.

The country's existing Broadband Delivery UK (BDUK) programme, which is overseen by the Secretary of State for Culture John Whittingdale and Digital Economy Minister Ed Vaizey, aims to extend superfast broadband services to 95% of the population by 2017/18.

The government also announced earlier this month that it would work to introduce a national minimum broadband speed of 10Mbps, a proposal that has been backed by BT.

Despite those commitments, the latest Spending Review has offered little indication on whether there will be renewed financial support for broadband and mobile infrastructure.

However, the government did stress the importance of competition between providers in helping to develop the delivery of fast and reliable broadband.

As a result, the government "will explore setting up a new broadband investment fund, to support the growth of alternative network developers by providing greater access to finance".

The Autumn Statement read: "The fund would be supported by both public and private investors, and would be managed by the private sector on a commercial basis."

Other measures include the investment of as much as £550 million to make the 700Mhz spectrum band available for mobile broadband use, as well as a £1.7 billion boost to the BDUK programme.

The government also confirmed it is to publish a Digital Transformation Plan in early 2016, which will outline how the benefits of digital communications infrastructure will impact the economy and lead to productivity gains.

The south west, meanwhile, will benefit from around £10 million of investment in its broadband infrastructure.



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