At present less than 1 per cent of British premises have access to fibre to the property (FTTP) services

Ofcom’s chief executive, Sharon White, has warned BT to "fibre up, or risk fading away".

Speaking at an industry event in London on Thursday, White said that incumbents who relied on copper based, legacy networks, risked being left behind in the race to deliver next generation gigabit connectivity.  

"If incumbents who rely on copper don’t change course, they risk losing swathes of customers to full- fibre rivals. Incumbents face a choice in my view – fibre-up, or risk fading away.

"History is strewn with once-successful companies that failed to anticipate and act on shifts in customer demands and to innovate. Think Kodak, Polaroid, Palm and Blockbuster. The UK cannot afford for BT to be added to that list," said White.

White commended Openreach’s CEO, Clive Selley, for his assertion that the company was now pursuing a "fibre first" policy, but called on the UK’s biggest broadband provider to do more to speed up the process of fibrisation.

White said that Ofcom was fully committed to promoting the roll out of fibre networks across the country, and made reference to its recent ruling on access to Openreach’s network infrastructure.

"We have put our weight behind opening up Openreach’s telegraph poles and underground ducts, making it quicker and cheaper for other operators to build networks.

"This reform could transform the economics of full-fibre investment. It is, in my view, Ofcom’s single, most important intervention.

"It could halve the upfront cost of building a fibre network and has already powered a substantial upgrading of networks in Spain and Portugal.

"Companies in the room today have started to trial ‘duct and pole access’, and interest is growing.

"We have also given companies the freedom to make a fair return for the highest-speed broadband," she said.

Sharon White will be a key note speaker at this year’s Connected Britain event. Click here for a full agenda and to find out how you can attend the event.