The lack of fibre availability is stunting the UK’s productivity levels, according to Huawei

Britain’s low fibre penetration levels will be a severe barrier to its economic growth, unless the country redouble its efforts to dramatically increase fibre availability, according to senior industry figures.

Speaking exclusively to Total Telecom last week, Huawei’s president for Global Government Affairs, Victor Zhang, said that the UK government was right to be focussing its efforts on expediting the expansion of the country’s fledgling fibre networks.   

“Prime Minister Boris Johnson has stated many times that full fibre networks are absolutely critical for the UK, not just to deliver ultrafast and hyperfast broadband services but also to help enable the rollout of 5G. Investment in fibre is of fundamental importance to the development of the UK’s economy,” Zhang said.

The UK government has made bolstering connectivity in rural areas one of its key priorities and negotiations are currently ongoing between the government and the country’s mobile network operators, over plans to eliminate its notorious connectivity blackspots. 

“Rural broadband coverage is a challenge for lots of countries and the UK is certainly one of them. There is a big gap in terms of fibre availability here in the UK compared with other European countries. There is still a real lack of fibre availability here in the UK and this will limit the UK’s development,” he explained.  

“I fully support the UK government’s decision to advocate full fibre development and deployment. It’s critical to deliver next generation broadband services. Without fibre, 5G can not bring its full benefit to the majority of the UK. If you are in a big city like London or Manchester or Birmingham, you are probably OK but if you live in a rural area you are not so well served. For rural areas it depends a lot on the investment and the ability for operators to make a return on that investment. So, we certainly need the right policy from government in order to incentivise investment in fibre and improve fibre coverage.  

“The lack of fibre is a limiting factor in the country’s tech development. We support the government’s commitment to putting fibre in the ground to boost rural connectivity. The industry needs a conducive environment for investment,” he added.

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