In an open letter published today, over 20 town and city leaders across the North of England have warned against the threat of duplicate fibre networks being built in the same location.
Such an uncoordinated rollout of full fibre networks would mean that some locations face double the disruption while others lose out on fibre networks altogether. The leaders warned that this would result in a digital and economic divide with the UK split between “the full fibre haves and have-nots.”
Signatory to the letter Cllr Susan Hinchcliffe, Chair of the West Yorkshire Combined Authority and Leader of Bradford Council, said: “The social and economic advantages unlocked by full fibre investment are immense, and sit alongside the major new and improved transport connectivity which we also need, such as through the Northern Powerhouse Rail network with a city centre Bradford station.
“These digital networks must be rolled-out as quickly and efficiently as possible if the Northern Powerhouse is to maximise the benefits.
“Through its refresh of the Northern Powerhouse strategy, the Government can show how it will address the weaknesses in the current regime which create waste and inefficiencies. They should give Combined Authorities the powers and flexibility on capital funding to deliver this vitally important infrastructure for our businesses and communities.”
The Northern Powerhouse Partnership have called for the government to deliver full fibre to the premises (FTTP) to every business and home in the top 30 Northern towns and cities by 2025.
At present, the government has committed to delivering a nationwide rollout of full fibre networks by 2033 with 15 million UK premises to have access by 2025. The new full fibre networks will ensure homes and businesses have reliable broadband services, with unlimited bandwidth and internet speeds of up to 1000Mbps.
Northern Powerhouse Partnership Director Henri Murison said:
“Towns and cities across the Northern Powerhouse eagerly anticipate full fibre roll-out and its transformative potential to unlock productivity. But this letter highlights leaders’ concern that the North’s full fibre future is at risk from uncoordinated investment, acting against the interests of business and home customers.
“In some cases, we are seeing the needless duplication of full fibre networks, whilst at the same time other Northern towns and cities with no planned investment risk being left behind on antiquated copper networks – missing out on the huge benefits full fibre brings.
“If we are to close the productivity gap between North and South we need to be attracting businesses to come here and help others grow. Digital connectivity can and must play a major role.”