Independent infrastructure providers have greatly increased the number of properties they reach with full fibre-to-the-premises (FTTP) broadband in the last year, and expect to more than double their current figures in the coming years.
This is according to a new study by the Independent Networks Cooperative Association (INCA) and Point Topic, which revealed the number of homes and businesses reached by FTTP connections outside of Openreach's network increased by 30 per cent in 2018, to almost 1.3 million.
However, many of these deployments are still ramping up, so by the end of 2020, the study forecast some 3.8 million premises will be covered by full fibre technology from alternative providers, with this rising to 15.96 million by 2025.
Chief executive of INCA Malcolm Corbett described the findings of the report as "very promising", noting there has been an impressive level of investment into the UK's independent networking providers, with some £3.36 billion of private funding committed.
"This has contributed to the flourishing independent sector in the UK and the great work that is being done to connect homes, schools and businesses across the country," he continued.
However, he warned progress in the coming years will only be achieved if the regulatory environment remains friendly towards these providers, while there are a number of other factors that could impact the pace of the rollout, including whether companies will have access to the necessary skills in a post-Brexit Britain.
"It is crucial that we stay mindful of the challenges identified in the report," Mr Corbett said. "For the government's ambitious targets to be met, our main concerns remain - planning and street work costs, delivery times from Openreach, access to ducts and poles, and overbuild."
The report also revealed there are currently 297,000 live superfast and ultrafast fixed networks provided by independent providers, a 43 per cent increase year-on-year.
Some of the largest companies covered in the report include CityFibre, TalkTalk and Hyperoptic, which all have plans to cover millions of premises in the coming years. However, it also features a wide range of smaller community-based groups that are focusing on more rural areas.