Full fibre broadband would become mandatory for new build homes and remote rural areas prioritised for funding.
The proposals in The Future Telecoms Infrastructure Review (FTIR), outline the changes needed to give the majority of the population access to 5G, connect 15 million premises to full fibre broadband by 2025, and provide full fibre broadband coverage across all of the UK by 2033. Full fibre infrastructure is vital to underpin 5G coverage.
“The FTIR’s analysis indicates that, without change, full fibre broadband networks will at best only ever reach three-quarters of the country, and it would take more than 20 years to do so. It also indicates that 5G offers the potential for an expansion of the telecoms market, with opportunities for existing players and new entrants,” said DCMS Secretary of State, Jeremy Wright.
New legislation will guarantee full fibre connections to new build developments; provide operators with a ‘right to entry’ to flats, business parks, office blocks and other tenanted properties. Ofcom will co-ordinate an industry-led switchover from copper to full fibre. The regulator will reform legislation to allow unrestricted access to Openreach ducts and poles for both residential and business use.
Sharon White, Ofcom Chief Executive, said: “We welcome the Government’s review, and share its ambition for full-fibre and 5G networks to be rolled out right across the UK. The Government and Ofcom are working together, and with industry, to help ensure people and businesses get the broadband and mobile they need for the 21st century.”
It’s anticipated that nationwide availability of full fibre will require funding of between £3 billion and £5 billion in the final 10% of areas. The Government is planning an “outside-in” strategy, meaning that while network competition serves the commercially viable areas, the Government will support investment in the most difficult to reach areas at the same time. We have already identified around £200 million within the existing Superfast broadband programme that can further the delivery of full fibre networks immediately.
Consultations on legislative changes to streamline wayleaves and mandate fibre connections in new builds will be published shortly.