Could localised regulations help boost fibre deployment?

Could localised regulations help boost fibre deployment?

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Efforts to improve the UK's coverage of high-speed connectivity, especially in rural areas that remain relatively underserved by existing deployments, are expected to be a key focus for telecoms regulator Ofcom in the coming year.

As part of this, a new consultation will explore whether the market would be better served by a less unified approach to regulation.

The organisation is currently soliciting comment on a proposal that would see it adopt a 'hyper-localised' strategy that could see the regulator play more of an active role in certain parts of the country, while taking a more hands-off attitude in locations where the market is already working well.

It was noted by that even though the UK is a relatively small market geographically, it has highly varied demands in different locations that can impact how deployers roll out the latest technology.

Adrian Baschnonga, telecoms lead analyst at EY, added that if targets to cover the entire country with gigabit-capable solutions are to be met, a more flexible approach to regulation will be hugely important.

He said: "Levels of competition and willingness to invest vary by geography - and a more nuanced appraisal of the UK's infrastructure landscape will play a key role in the regulation of fibre in years to come."

The proposal would see regions around the UK placed into one of three categories, depending on the level of progress they have already made. 

In more commercially viable areas, where fibre penetration is already progressing steadily, Ofcom would not be as actively involved, whereas at the other end of the scale, such as more rural areas, rules will be tightened up in order to encourage investment and ensure no part of the UK is left behind.

The consultation is expected to be open until the spring, with any potential actions to be outlined by the autumn, with a view to implementation during 2021.

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