Britain currently lags towards the bottom of the full fibre coverage league tables, with only 3% of homes and businesses connected to a full fibre line
Britain’s telecoms regulator Ofcom has told BT to speed up investment in the UK’s broadband infrastructure, or risk being left behind by its competition.
Ofcom’s chief executive Sharon White used a speech, delivered at the offices of Virgin Media, to single out Britain’s incumbent telecoms provider for reproach.
“BT has the financial and technical wherewithal to transform its digital infrastructure for the modern era. The question for BT is: does it lead the transformation today as the self-proclaimed national champion, or does it follow, playing catch-up on its nimbler rivals?” she said.
White highlighted the fact that just 3% of BT customers are connected to a full fibre line and argued that this puts Britain’s businesses at a distinct disadvantage compared to its European neighbours. In Spain, for example, 60% of homes and businesses have access to full fibre, gigabit capable networks.
White delivered a stark warning for BT, telling the former monopoly provider that it would need to reassess its priorities going forward, focusing on what she referred to as "the national priority".
“Competition for fibre is growing, as will consumer demand for it. As the owner of Openreach it should act in the interest of all of its customers who rely on it, as well as its shareholders.”
The UK government has set its own target of delivering fibre to the home (FTTH) broadband services to 10 million homes and businesses by 2023. BT will be expected to play a key role in delivering this pledge. Open Reach has committed to connecting 2 million premises to its FTTH networks by 2020 but is under pressure to increase this number.
Last month, Vodafone and City Fibre signed a £500 million deal to bring FTTH services to 5 million homes in the UK, effectively fulfilling 50% of the government’s pledge.
The UK government has this month created a £190 million fibre broadband fund to encourage the roll out of FTTH services across the country.
Ofcom’s Sharon White will be a speaker at this year’s Connected Britain event, where she will be discussing the implications of full fibre networks on Britain’s business sector. From the 19th – 20th June 2017, the event will bring together key stakeholders in Britain’s broadband infrastructure. Click here to find out how you can be part of the discussion.