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Government pledges full-fibre broadband across the UK by 2033

Press Association logoPress Association 23/07/2018 By Jamie Harris, Press Association Technology Reporter
Government broadband pledge: Government pledges to connect 15 million premises to full fibre broadband by 2025. (Dominic Lipinski/PA) © Provided by The Press Association Government pledges to connect 15 million premises to full fibre broadband by 2025. (Dominic Lipinski/PA)

All homes across the UK should have access to full-fibre broadband coverage by the year 2033, according to the Government’s digital strategy.

Proposals set out by the Department for Digital, Culture, Media & Sport recommend legislation to guarantee new homes are fitted with full-fibre broadband.

Full-fibre connections – which are faster, more reliable and cheaper to run compared with traditional copper-based networks – only stand at 4% in the UK, lagging behind other European countries, including Spain at 71% and Portugal at 89%.

The Government aims to give the majority of the UK access to 5G and to connect 15 million premises to full-fibre broadband by 2025. It also said an increase in spectrum should help boost innovative 5G services.

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Culture Secretary Jeremy Wright said: “We want everyone in the UK to benefit from world-class connectivity no matter where they live, work or travel.

“This radical new blueprint for the future of telecommunications in this country will increase competition and investment in full-fibre broadband, create more commercial opportunities and make it easier and cheaper to roll out infrastructure for 5G.

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“The FTIR’s (Future Telecoms Infrastructure Review) analysis indicates that, without change, full-fibre broadband networks will at best only ever reach three-quarters of the country, and it would take more than 20 years to do so.

“It also indicates that 5G offers the potential for an expansion of the telecoms market, with opportunities for existing players and new entrants.”

The Government hopes that changes to regulation and an industry-led switch over from copper to full-fibre co-ordinated with Ofcom will help drive private investment and minimise the cost.

Hard-to-reach rural areas would be prioritised for fixed broadband and 5G mobile connections with around £200 million within the existing superfast broadband programme.

CityFibre, one of the UK’s alternative fibre networks, welcomed the move but said consumers should not have to foot the bill.

“Today marks the day the Government decided once and for all to leave copper behind and commit the UK to a full-fibre future, making clear that a new generation of infrastructure builders is the vehicle for delivering its bold ambition for all homes and businesses to be connected to full-fibre by 2033, not just Openreach,” CityFibre’s director of strategy Mark Collins told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme.

“However, it is critical that the consumer is at the heart of this fantastic opportunity from the start, as this is the key to unlocking demand.

“That means avoiding price rises, ensuring switching between networks is simple and ending the years of misleading ‘fake fibre’ advertising.”

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