Ofcom hopes to drive better competition across the country, especially in rural areas
Ofcom has set out proposals that will speed up the rollout of full fibre broadband across the UK and drive fair competition for consumers.
The regulator hopes the proposals will ignite a ‘full fibre future’ for the UK, with speeds of up to 1Gbps, with the telecoms industry welcoming the plans.
To help support the full-fibre rollout, Ofcom has detailed a four-point plan that will encourage competitive investment in fibre networks.
Ofcom hopes to improve the business case for fibre investment, close the copper network, protect customers by driving competition and increase speeds in rural areas with significant investment.
The UK government pledged in the run up to the General Election last year to connect remote rural areas, with plans to invest £5 billion to reach the most challenging 20 per cent of the country.
Ofcom interim chief executive Jonathan Oxley is hopeful the proposals will advance the UK’s digital standing.
“These plans will help fuel a full-fibre future for the whole country. We’re removing the remaining roadblocks to investment and supporting competition, so companies can build the networks that will drive the UK into the digital fast lane.
“We’re making sure companies have the right incentives to accelerate full fibre to every part of the UK.”
Ofcom’s plans have been widely welcomed by the industry with BT chief executive Philip Jansen saying it is a “significant step forward towards a widely shared ambition to fibre up the whole of the UK”.
While Ombudsman Services director of regulatory affairs Ed Dodman said: “Full-fibre is the future of fixed broadband. It’s good to see Ofcom using its powers as a regulator to stimulate competition, drive investment and improve outcomes for consumers.
“Many of the broadband complaints we handle from consumers and small businesses are to do with issues around speed and reliability, so we support proposals that will lead to improvements in these areas across the UK.”
Three’s general counsel and regulatory affairs director Stephen Lerner said: “This will be instrumental in both enabling the widespread rollout of true 5G networks capable of offering gigabit speeds and providing consumers with a choice of providers which offer the residential broadband services that they demand.”
However CityFibre CEO Greg Mesch is more cautious: “While we are encouraged by Ofcom’s recognition of the risks of volume discounts and geographic pricing to damage competition before it can scale, but we would like it to be even more proactive in addressing these issues.
“The Government’s 2025 target for national coverage is ambitious and while possible, it is only achievable with bold and affirmative action.”