Digital infrastructure lies at the heart of the UK’s industrial strategy and affects every sector of the economy. To reflect its importance, ultimate government responsibility for digital infrastructure should reside in one place under a single cabinet minister with the authority to shape policy and delivery across government, ensuring that it delivers the government’s overarching digital strategy. This work should report to the Economy and Industrial Strategy Cabinet Committee. It should:
- Identify the public projects that contain a significant element of digital infrastructure and establish and maintain a plan which sets out how they can help deliver the government’s overarching digital strategy and maximise the benefit of better mobile telecommunications for UK citizens and businesses.
- Hold the various parts of government that are delivering digital infrastructure to account, in order to ensure adequate telecoms network provision in the delivery of its infrastructure programmes.
- Ensure that when upgrading existing or delivering new infrastructure, such as that alongside our roads and railways, the long term capacity needs of telecoms networks are considered and met. This could include installing more fibre and additional infrastructure to make sure that networks are future-proof. It will also mean ensuring that the networks are readily accessible to communications providers.
- Be a centre of telecoms expertise within government that supports departments in determining their needs and procuring telecoms infrastructure, and support departments in demonstrating and testing of new, digitally-enabled ways of delivering public services such as education and healthcare.
- Support and challenge local government in their plans to enable the delivery of digital infrastructure; both in terms of ensuring that these plans help the UK to meet its national objectives, and that local authorities develop consistent approaches to support the deployment of mobile infrastructure across the country.