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A damp squib: Entanet slams government's tech investment plans

Distributor says that once you strip away the fluff, Chancellor Hammond's Digital Infrastructure Investment Fund is little more than ‘political manoeuvring’

Technology distributor Entanet has dismissed Chancellor Philip Hammond’s £400m digital infrastructure investment as ‘a damp squib’.

Paul Heritage-Redpath, product manager at Entanet said that the Digital Infrastructure Investment Fund represented little more than ‘political manoeuvring’.

In yesterday’s Autumn Statement the government announced measures that it said would ‘bring faster and more reliable broadband for homes and businesses across the UK, boost the next generation of mobile connectivity and keep the UK in the forefront of the development of the Internet of Things’.

However, writing on Entanet’s blog, Heritage-Redpath said that the plans were nothing more than the chancellor strutting and fretting his hour upon the stage.

“A sweeping glance at the headline text suggests that the investment of £400m into a Digital Infrastructure Investment Fund (DIIF) and tax-relief on full fibre infrastructure are a great step forward for the development of Gigabit Britain, but as usual, the devil is in the detail,” the Entanet man wrote. “And it’s the consideration of the detail that has brought us to the opinion that Chancellor Philip Hammond has achieved nothing more than political manoeuvring aimed at satisfying the calls for more investment in the UK’s fibre communications infrastructure.”

Heritage-Redpath said that the Autumn Statement raised more questions than it answered; and chief amongst them, how exactly could these goals be achieved with just £400 million of taxpayers money?

“Granted, some premises may get faster and/or more reliable broadband as a result of the £400m DIIF investment,” he said. “But not many. An estimate made on thinkbroadband.com suggests premises passed could be many as two million, or as few as 500,000. We’re not sure that it can be expected to have even this degree of impact. In terms of fibre infrastructure investment, £100 million a year is not that much – and with the spending spread over four years, progress won’t be rapid.”

The distie also had a dig at the chancellor’s command of IT lingo. Hammond said during the Statement, that the rise of IoT would benefit from improved fibre instrastucture. Heritage-Redpath said that this demonstrated a clear lack of knowledge when it came to the tech sector.

“Right now most IoT devices require very little bandwidth, and this is likely to be the case for many years to come.”

“While we welcome any extra funding for fibre build-outs that may be made available, the Autumn Statement lacks clarity and detail on exactly how this £400 million fund will achieve its goals. There may be some very specific reasons for the wording the government has chosen, but if so, they are not at all clear. There is reason to believe that these commitments to improving the UK’s fibre capability were included in the Autumn Statement to show that the government is doing something to drive investment and that it has its finger on the pulse of industry developments. Frankly, we’re not at all sure it does,” he said.

“The measures suggested don’t go far enough, lack depth and detail and will, in our view, have little impact on long-term investment in fibre infrastructure. In the end, it looks rather too much like political manoeuvring and posturing, when what’s needed is decisive and effective support.”

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