The UK’s challenger broadband network providers are overwhelmingly in support of a common wholesale platform, according to research from the Independent Networks Cooperative Association (INCA).
Nearly nine out of ten (88.7%) of the providers are in favour of such a platform, through which they could provide wholesale services to third-party content providers, aggregating the large volume of customers they could potentially reach.
It is has been estimated that there will be 11 million premises accessed via independent networks by 2025.
The number of premises provided with full-fibre coverage is increasing rapidly with independent networks increasing their deployment by 50% last year to 1.2 million. However, with just over 10% of all UK premises covered with full fibre there is a long way to go, although Virgin Media’s cable network makes a significant contribution to the UK government’s 2025 target of “gigabit-capable broadband” to all homes.
INCA CEO Malcolm Corbett said: “For some time, it has been presumed that challenger independent providers do not have the scale to attract major brands like TalkTalk and Sky. However, that is changing rapidly and our research shows that the operators are keen to work together on a wholesale platform that can bridge the gap in the market.”
INCA is supporting the development of a common wholesale platform, which would enable groups of independent wholesale network providers to combine together and offer a competitive alternative to the limited number of large players that currently dominate the market. The aim is to make it as simple as possible for service providers to deliver their services over challenger networks, thus helping to foster credible competition and consumer choice in the delivery of the UK’s new digital infrastructure.
INCA’s survey was carried out in summer 2020 in response to a call from Ofcom to have greater visibility of the industry's view on establishing a common wholesale platform.