UK regulator to ‘supercharge’ fibre broadband rollout | Infrastructure | News | Rapid TV News
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Weeks after releasing research findings showing that barely a tenth of UK homes and business accessed full fibre broadband, the country’s communications and broadcast regulator Ofcom has proposals to upgrade the UK national infrastructure.
Virgin gigabit network 25July2019 landsc
Published in December 2019, The Connected Nations 2019 survey found that three million UK homes and businesses have the ability to obtain connections that can deliver download speeds of up to 1 Gbps, over 1.5 million more than at the same time a year earlier. And while the absolute number of connections is still low, what has made matters worse is that availability to fibre in the UK has been to date more or less restricted to the larger urban areas.

To go some way towards rectifying this situation, In October 2019, the UK government instructed Ofcom to make nationwide roll-out of gigabit-speed broadband a priority and the regulator has now revealed a four-point plan to upgrade UK broadband infrastructure in a way that it says will transform the business case for national full-fibre investment in towns, cities and even villages.

This encompasses: improving the business case for fibre investment by setting wholesale prices from the UK’s broadband infrastructure provider Openreach in a way that encourages competition from new networks, as well as its own investment; protecting customers and driving competition by making sure people can still access affordable broadband and preventing Openreach from stifling competition; taking rural areas into the fast lane by supporting investment by Openreach in these areas; and closing the copper network as full fibre is built, so Openreach does not have the unnecessary costs of running two parallel networks.
Ofcom is proposing that the wholesale price that Openreach charges retail providers for its entry-level 40Mbps superfast broadband service is capped to inflation.

To support customers during the transition, Ofcom says it will transfer its regulation, including price protections, from copper to new fibre services.

Commenting on the move, Richard Neudegg, head of regulation at UK online and telephone price comparison site uSwitch.com, said: “It is encouraging to see that the regulator recognises the need to support and drive investment in rural areas. If speeds are only improving in the major cities that are already enjoying faster connectivity, it will only serve to worsen the country’s widening digital divide. Ultimately, any pledge to supercharge investment in fibre broadband will only be effective if people are given genuine choice, underpinned by functioning competition between providers.”