The UK government’s broadband delivery body, Building Digital UK (BDUK), is set to become an executive agency in a reshuffle aimed at speeding up the rollout of gigabit broadband across the country.
BDUK, currently a division within the Department for Digital, Media and Sport, oversees the government’s £5bn effort to provide businesses and consumers access to fast and reliable digital connectivity and improve services in rural areas.
BDUK will become an executive agency by April 2022, which will see it gain a new corporate structure and board. However, DCMS will retain “overall control and responsibility” for the organisation. BDUK will also establish its head office in Manchester.
“As part of the biggest broadband build in British history, we are now giving BDUK greater freedom and flexibility to ramp up rollout and expand its operations to create new jobs, boost economic growth and level up communities in need,” said Julia Lopez, digital infrastructure minister.
The government has committed to giving 85% of the UK access to a “gigabit-capable” broadband connection by 2025.
Some 62.9% of UK homes and businesses currently have access to ultrafast gigabit broadband, up from 6% in early 2019.
The government said the move will ensure BDUK can focus on Project Gigabit. It will also give it more “operational autonomy” to focus on Shared Rural Network, a £1bn deal agreed with mobile network operators to tackle “patchy” rural mobile coverage and give 95% of UK access to a 4G signal by the end of 2025.