Government reinforces commitment to ‘full-fibre future’ for UK broadband

Written by Sam Trendall on 3 November 2017 in News
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Digital minister Matt Hancock says existing copper-to-the-home infrastructure is ‘not fit for the future’

Currently, just 3% of UK broadband connections are entirely fibre based  Credit: PA

Digital minister Matt Hancock has reiterated the government’s commitment to a “full-fibre future” for British broadband.

The digital minister acknowledged that although, progress is being made on deploying fibre connections as far public telecoms cabinets, most people’s homes are still served by copper connections.

“Fibre to the cabinet… might better be known [as] copper-to-the-premise,” he said.

Currently, just 3% of UK broadband connections are full fibre, Hancock said. But the digital minister was unequivocal in stating that entirely fibre-based connections are the only way forward, adding that the government will “strain every sinew” to ensure the technology is, ultimately, deployed throughout the country.


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“While the existing copper network is important today, a copper-to-the-premise solution is not fit for the future,” he said. “While completing the rollout of today’s technology is important, we are determined to be on the front foot with the technology of tomorrow too. That means full fibre. We cannot stress enough that full fibre is the future.”

The government is working to make good on the Conservatives’ election manifesto pledge that everyone in the UK will have access to superfast broadband. A penetration rate of 95% should be achieved by the end of this year, Hancock said.

The government is currently mulling two options to get that figure up to 100%. One is a universal service obligation (USO) regulation that, effectively, would enshrine in law every citizen’s right to superfast broadband. The other is an offer from BT to invest up £600m in deploying the necessary telecoms infrastructure.

“On the USO, we have published our consultation on the regulatory option and will be responding to the consultation shortly,” said Hancock. “We are also considering the offer put forward by BT to deliver the USO. We welcome their proposal, and we are considering both options on the table, but unless BT can convince us they will deliver universal coverage by 2020, we will have no option but to go down the regulatory route.”

He added: “We are determined to deliver high-speed broadband to all by 2020.”

 

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Sam Trendall is editor of PublicTechnology

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