Broadband industry cautious on faster full fibre calls

Broadband industry cautious on faster full fibre calls

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The broadband industry has given a cautious reaction to calls for the pace of the UK's full fibre rollout to be significantly increased, noting that while extra investment would be welcome, there are a range of challenges that would have to be overcome.

Currently, the government has set a target of 2033 for delivering full fibre-to-the-premises broadband to every home and business in the country. However, Boris Johnson has now urged a much faster pace.

Writing in the Telegraph, the frontrunner in the Conservative leadership race described this goal as "laughably unambitious", adding it is a "disgrace that this country should suffer from a deep digital divide, so that many rural areas and towns are simply left behind".

Therefore, he called for the goal to be moved forward by eight years, in order to connect every premises in the UK to full fibre by the end of 2025.

At present, the government's plans only aim to reach 15 million homes and businesses with full fibre by this date, so any efforts to expand on this would need significant investment, both financially and in terms of improved regulations.

While Mr Johnson offered few details about how this goal could be achieved, industry groups warned that such targets should not be tackled lightly.

A spokesperson for Openreach told ISPReview.co.uk: "Building full fibre technology to the whole of the UK isn’t quick or easy. It requires £30 billion and a physical build to more than 30 million front doors, from suburban terraces to remote crofts."

Meanwhile, chair of the Internet Service Providers Association Andrew Glover said that, while Mr Johnson's ambitious plans are welcome, there needs to be major regulatory change in order to promote the environment necessary for such large-scale, fast investment.

"Broadband is a largely privately financed infrastructure and together with outdated planning laws, fibre business rates are holding our members back from accelerating their roll-out plans," he said.

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