INDUSTRY VIEW: Government pledge of cash for ‘full fibre’ is well received but each firm has its own view on what the priority should be
As part of his Autumn Statement, Chancellor Philip Hammond has pledged £400m towards the rollout of ultrafast broadband, in what is being viewed as a potential successor to the Broadband Delivery UK (BDUK) initiative for superfast.
It is expected the money will go to providers of alternative infrastructure, but Fibre to the Premise (FTTP) is being rolled out by a number of major firms including BT and Virgin Media. The news comes amidst the ongoing debate about the future structure of Openreach.
But what does the broadband industry think?
Greg Mesch, CEO CityFibre
“As a pure fibre infrastructure pioneer and the company behind the UK’s growing ranks of Gigabit Cities, CityFibre welcomes the Chancellor’s support to accelerate the deployment of fibre and 5G to homes and businesses.
“Britain’s industrial strategy needs a digital backbone, and it is essential that we move quickly to plug the UK’s ‘fibre gap’ and empower our service-based economy. This new funding, stimulating competitive fibre rollout at scale by new communications infrastructure builders, is a catalyst for the delivery of the UK’s fibre future.”
Andrew Griffith, Sky Group COO
“We welcome the Government’s announcement on broadband investment, which chimes with our view that the future is full fibre. Government has played its part through this package of measures, which should help kick start the investment needed to push the UK up the league table. But we won’t achieve the necessary step change in driving full fibre investment across the country unless Ofcom also takes bold and decisive action on the future of BT Openreach.”
Helen Lamprell, Vodafone UK director of external affairs
“We welcome the Government’s move to focus on providing full fibre and we call upon BT to be up-front with the British public about its roll out plans and acknowledge that G.Fast will do nothing to help those stranded on archaic and woefully inadequate broadband today.
“BT is pushing a muddled compromise rooted in the past, while the rest of the world is focused on building the Gigabit Society at light speed over fibre.”
“As the government says, the UK is a broadband leader with around nine in ten premises being able to access superfast services today. It is important however that ultrafast broadband is also deployed to as many areas as possible.
“Openreach has ambitious plans to make ultrafast services available to twelve million homes and businesses by the end of 2020 and we support others who wish to roll out their own networks. Such activity is very capital intensive and this Fund may be helpful in ensuring smaller players can build sustainable businesses”
Dana Tobak, CEO Hyperoptic
“We have been actively engaging the government to encourage more investment into Fibre-to-the-Premises – today’s news is a very positive step in the right direction, which will help the rollout of full fibre broadband across the UK.
“Investment in pure fibre networks is a no-brainer as it supports our increasingly digital dependent economy. Of course, the devil is in detail and we would also call upon the government to be more aggressive on its broadband targets, support full fibre, and enable the market conditions to encourage private sector investment, which will ultimately enable Gigabit Britain.”
Dan Howdle, expert at Cable.co.uk
“There still remains millions of households in the UK for whom adequate broadband is a daily struggle. The DCMS and Openreach are already pushing hard to reduce this number substantially through its Broadband Delivery UK programme (BDUK) which aims to, and indeed is on target to achieve 95% of homes in the UK receiving at least 24Mbps by next year.
“While it is commendable that the Treasury considers broadband provision in the UK worthy of additional government funding, it is utterly absurd that this funding should provide to a minority speeds for which there is no known or useful purpose while so many others struggle for anything approaching basic adequacy.
“It may be that some of those areas targeted for ‘ultrafast’ are indeed those with inadequate basic provision, but realistically it is far more likely it will be brought to areas where there is an economic incentive for those providing the service. Rural locations especially do not fit these criteria because the uptake among residents, even for existing superfast speeds of 24Mbps or more, tends to be very low.”
“The government should be spending this money where it matters most, along with putting in place firm restrictions as to exactly where this new network provision can be applied – prioritising those who need it most.”
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