BT And Others To Meet Government For FTTP Broadband – Report

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Telecom figures to meet government today to discuss nationwide rollout of fibre to the premise (FTTP)

BT Group is leading a delegation of officials from the telecoms sector, as it seeks to switch off its copper broadband service, in favour of a complete fibre to the premise (FTTP) deployment.

The telecom figure are seeking to get copper broadband switched off in the same way as the analogue TV signal was done in 2012, Sky News has reported.

Earlier this week a report from MPs on the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Committee (EFRA), warned that the government is not doing enough to tackle the digital divide between rural and urban areas,

Fibre to the Premise

That report had praised the ambition of Prime Minister Boris Johnston, who had called for fibre to the premise (FTTP) to be made available to “every home in the land” within five years.

The government has set a goal of 2033 for the rollout of fibre to all premises, a target Johnson had called “laughably unambitious”.

The government’s current universal service obligation’ (USO) has pledged to ensure that homes in the UK receive a minimum speed of 10Mbps, but the EFRA report says that obligation will be obsolete soon after introduction.

Into this mix comes the report from Sky News, that BT is holding secret talks with the government about a timetable for switching off copper broadband services in the UK.

According to Sky News, BT is spearheading an £30 billion initiative which has been under discussion with other telecom companies, regulators and ministers for a number of weeks.

It reported that the plan, which have been developed by BT’s chief executive, Philip Jansen, would see full-fibre broadband (FTTP) replace existing copper networks on a region-by-region basis over the next six years.

It is reported that a final switch-off date of 2027 is being earmarked for customers using the remaining copper lines, and that telecom companies would need to secure sufficient public subsidy to ensure the supply of new services to all of Britain’s rural communities.

Apparently consumers and businesses would be given two years in each area of the country to move their service to a new full-fibre provider, and the industry confident it can hit Boris Johnson’s target of universal fast broadband across Britain by 2025.

Government meeting

Sky News, citing sources who have been briefed on the companies’ proposals, the plan would see copper broadband lines terminated on a staggered basis once the new networks capable of much faster broadband speeds are fully built in each region.

Companies such as BT and others would be obliged to commit to building full-fibre networks in rural areas as well, meaning an end to the so called digital divide.

An insider told Sky News on Wednesday evening that a six-point plan had been drawn up by BT. And the development has apparently already been privately welcomed by ministers.

Industry figures are set to met with Nicky Morgan, the culture secretary, on Thursday to discuss the plans, including demands that planning laws are relaxed, as well as assurances about access to the roughly 35,000 engineers who will be required to deliver the full rollout programme by 2025.

Attendees reportedly include BT’s Jansen, along with Clive Selley, Openreach’s chief executive, TalkTalk chief executive Tristia Harrison and Simon Holden, chief operating officer of CityFibre.

Sharon White, the departing chief executive of industry regulator Ofcom, is also due to attend along with other Whitehall and sector figures.

“This Government wants to deliver world-class, gigabit-capable digital infrastructure across the country and will announce further details on how we will achieve this as soon as possible,” a spokesman for the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport told Sky.

“We are investing over £650m in full fibre broadband until the end of 2021 and are committed to creating the right opportunities for investment as we speed up the roll-out of this technology,” the government spokesman said.

At the moment, Ofcom says that only 8 percent of UK homes and premises have access to full-fibre broadband connectivity.

BT and the other companies contacted by Sky News reportedly declined to comment on the matter.

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Author: Tom Jowitt
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