Backing up a speech this past May from UK Chancellor of the Exchequer Philip Hammond, the UK Government has released The Future Telecoms Infrastructure Review (FTIR), which calls for the connection of 15 million premises to full fiber broadband networks by 2025, with fiber to the premises (FTTP) reaching all of the UK by 2033. The Government says it will supply funding to support the roll out of FTTP to the 10% of premises, mostly rural, it expects competition will not enable fiber to reach within its target time frame.
“We want everyone in the UK to benefit from world-class connectivity no matter where they live, work, or travel,” said Department for Digital, Culture, Media & Sport Secretary of State Jeremy Wright. “This radical new blueprint for the future of telecommunications in this country will increase competition and investment in full fiber broadband, create more commercial opportunities, and make it easier and cheaper to roll out infrastructure for 5G.
Key initiatives recommended within the FTIR include:
- Legislation to guarantee full fiber connections in new build developments
- Enabling “right to entry” for operators to apartment units, business parks, office blocks, and other tenanted properties
- Regulatory reform to incentivize fiber network investment, tailored to different local market conditions
- An industry-led switch from copper to fiber access coordinated with UK regulatory authority Ofcom
- A new nationwide framework to reduce the costs, time and disruption of network installation via standardizing approaches across the country
- Increased access to spectrum for 5G services
- Improving access to infrastructure (including pipes and sewers) owned by other utilities that could be used as conduit
- New regulations that would enable unrestricted access to Openreach ducts and poles
The Government believes these initiatives should enable the competitive ecosystem to reach as much as 90% of the country with fiber access. To pick up the shortfall, the UK Government plans to find £3 billion to £5 billion in funding to enable roll outs to these potentially underserved areas. The FTIR says there is already about £200 million within the existing Superfast broadband program that could be used for this purpose.
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