Commenting on Ofcom’s proposals for supercharging investment in fibre broadband, Julian David, CEO of techUK said:
“Full Fibre and 5G together are the underpinning technologies of our future digital economy and society and techUK agrees with Ofcom that we must upgrade our existing infrastructure immediately to take full advantage of them. Fibre is not just much faster but is also much more reliable, and is needed to deliver 5G.
Industry is already delivering on this. The majority of the estimated £30bn cost for Full Fibre is being borne by the private sector, and all four mobile operators launched 5G in 2019, making the UK a 5G leader.
Ofcom’s proposals for regulation to apply from 2021 are welcomed, particularly further support for rural areas, although the devil may be in the detail. It will be essential that any changes to Openreach’s wholesale prices, and withdrawal of regulation from Openreach’s broadband products in areas deemed competitive, do not discourage investment in competing networks.
But there is even more that could be done. The business rates holiday in England for new fibre broadband (which currently expires in 2022) needs to be made permanent or, at the very least, to match Scotland’s 10-year rates holiday.
Also if we want fibre to be rolled out faster and cheaper, operators must be able to share existing infrastructure far more than is currently possible. To that end, techUK believes that the current Government-backed Underground Asset Register pilot, involving companies owning ducting in London, shows the way forward.”