In a May 22 speech delivered to attendees of the Confederation of British Industry (CBI) Annual Dinner, UK Chancellor of the Exchequer Philip Hammond called for fiber to the premises (FTTP) to be deployed nationwide by 2033. He also set an interim goal of 15 million premises connected by 2025.
“In the 21st century, fiber networks will be the enabling infrastructure that drives economic growth,” Hammond said, according to a copy of the speech posted on the UK Government’s website. He added that FTTP networks are “faster, more reliable, and cheaper to operate than their copper predecessors.”
Hammond called the plan “ambitious” and noted it would require connection of 2 million premises annually to reach the 2025 goal. He added that rather than issue an edict to spur fiber deployment, “We will do it by creating the conditions for the market to deliver, and we will use all the tools at the government’s disposal to ensure that target is met.”
Details of how the Government will create the right environment for fiber investment will come this summer, when Matt Hancock, the DCMS Secretary, unveils them as part of the upcoming Future Telecoms Infrastructure Review.
The Independent Networks Cooperative Association (INCA), which represents alternative network operators, threw its support behind the initiative – and wants a seat at the table. “There is no reason why most of the UK cannot be served by full fiber and our members are fully supportive of making this happen,” said INCA CEO Malcolm Corbett. “However, there are steps that need to be taken in order to make Philip Hammond’s goal a realistic one. For one, we need to see more collaboration between the industry’s big players, such as BT Openreach and Virgin Media, and the altnets, to enable a future-proof digital infrastructure to be built quickly.”
Hammond’s speech follows in the wake of a recent announcement by BT that it would significantly increase its spending on FTTP deployment over the next two years “if conditions are right” (see “BT pledges increased FTTP, mobile infrastructure investments as part of new strategy”).
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