Focus on new builds and looser regulation 'keys to full fibre rollout'

Focus on new builds and looser regulation 'keys to full fibre rollout'

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Executives in the UK's broadband sector have spelled out four key challenges that will have to be overcome if proposals to accelerate the pace of the UK's full fibre rollout are to be successful.

In an open letter to prime minister Boris Johnson, the heads of the Internet Service Providers' Association, the Federation of Communications Services and the Independent Networks Cooperative Association welcomed a renewed focus on improving digital connectivity, but urged the new government to back up this ambition with concrete support.

The executives identified four key areas that must be addressed if 100 per cent coverage of full fibre across the UK is to be achieved.

These include focusing on new builds, as the organisations observed "too many" new homes are still being built without fibre connectivity as standard, despite the range of incentives on offer to developers. 

In order to address this, the industry bodies called for the advancement of plans that would make full fibre connectivity mandatory for all new homes.

The letter also urged an end to the fibre tax, which treats fibre cables as though they were business buildings. "Significant reform to this fibre tax would provide an immediate boost to the industry and significantly unlock more ambitious rollout plans," the executives wrote.

Meanwhile, a greater investment in skills was urged, as the national rollout of fibre will pose a significant engineering challenge.

Finally, the letter urged the government to loosen regulations regarding wayleaves. At present, the bodies said many rollouts are being delayed by unresponsive landlords who fail to allow prompt access to deployers. 

Making it easier for infrastructure providers to access land and buildings in order to install cabling will therefore be essential in ensuring fibre is delivered as quickly as possible.

"Nationwide full fibre coverage is not a can that can be kicked down the road, and these issues need to be resolved by your government within the next 12 months to ensure that industry can continue to accelerate rollout," the letter to the prime minister added.

It noted that the industry is ready and willing to help bring full fibre broadband to every home and business in the UK - but will need the support of government to make it a reality.

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