Communications provider BT has warned that the UK is likely to miss its target to bring gigabit-capable broadband to every home and business by 2025 unless significant changes are made in areas such as planning rules, access and incentives.
A report commissioned by the company and compiled by consultancy firm Analysys Mason found that if this goal is to be met, the number of premises connected by the UK's fibre providers would have to reach 4.3 million a year - more than double the current rate.
Alex Towers, director of policy and public affairs at BT, said: "That won’t happen if we simply wait and see what the market delivers. It needs rapid action from government and regulators too."
Indeed, the report forecast that as things stand, only 70 per cent of homes and businesses will be reached by the target date, while unless changes are made, it could be 2033 before true nationwide coverage is achieved.
However, the company did suggest that if the right steps are taken, the industry should be able to deliver full fibre coverage to 96 per cent of premises in the UK by 2025, with 100 per cent of homes and businesses gigabit-enabled by 2027.
BT stated the importance of extra measures to support the rollout of faster broadband services should not be underestimated, especially in light of the recent changes in how we live and work brought about by the global pandemic, which are having a significant impact on demand for broadband networks.
"In January, half a million people were using Zoom. By April, there were 13 million people doing that, and the UK population were spending a quarter of their waking day online," Mr Towers said. He added: "Even if some of those changes are temporary, there’s no doubt that our economic and social future is going to be dependent on our digital one."
He said that the government's ambition for gigabit broadband is correct as this technology will be vital in boosting the UK's long-term economic recovery and supporting the country's post-Brexit future.
But this cannot happen without a "concerted action plan" from the government, Mr Towers warned.