Mandatory full fibre broadband for all new build homes and a new priority to connect hard-to-reach rural areas are key measures proposed in a national, long-term strategy for UK telecommunications.
The new approach is aimed at driving large-scale commercial investment in the fixed and wireless networks that are vital for the UK to remain globally competitive in a digital world.
The Future Telecoms Infrastructure Review (FTIR), announced as part of the government’s modern Industrial Strategy, proposes the changes that are 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.
At its heart is an emphasis on greater consumer choice and initiatives to promote quicker rollout and an eventual full switch over from copper to fibre.
DCMS Secretary of State, Jeremy Wright said: “We want everyone in the UK to benefit from world-class connectivity no matter where they live, work or travel. This radical new blueprint for the future of telecommunications in this country will increase competition and investment in full fibre broadband, create more commercial opportunities and make it easier and cheaper to roll out infrastructure for 5G.
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 twenty 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.
The FTIR will drive competition and commercial investment in full fibre networks across as much of the UK as possible. However, there will be some parts of the country where it will be unlikely that that the market will be able to deliver alone.
Nationwide availability of full fibre is likely to require additional funding of around £3 billion to £5 billion, to support commercial investment in the final 10% of areas.
The Government will therefore pursue 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.