The UK should prepare to switch off its copper based networks by 2025

The UK should aim to reach 100 per cent penetration for full fibre, gigabit capable broadband by the year 2033, according to a new report commissioned by the UK government.

The National Infrastructure Report states that full fibre broadband networks will be absolutely critical to the UK’s efforts to grow its digital economy. The report calls on the UK government to incentivise investment in full fibre networks and to subsidise rollout plans for hard to reach rural areas.

"To encourage full fibre rollout, the government should put in place a national broadband plan by the end of 2018. Ofcom should provide certainty to commercial investors and encourage further private sector delivery of full fibre. With this certainty from government and Ofcom, most urban areas are likely to receive full fibre just through the promotion of market competition. However, full fibre will still need to be subsidised in some areas where commercial players are unlikely to deliver it. This should begin with the locations least likely to receive broadband commercially. With these plans in place, nationwide full fibre connectivity should be available no later than 2033," the report reads.

According to the report, converting to full fibre networks could save UK operators £5 billion per year over the next 30 years in reduced maintenance costs. The report warns the government that failure to invest now could have catastrophic implications in the years ahead.

"The Commission’s judgement is that the government should act now to deliver full fibre across the country; in the Commission’s social research, 86 per cent of people agreed that all parts of the UK should have equal access to broadband. Full fibre broadband is the likely next step in digital connectivity. It is more reliable and cheaper to maintain than today’s part copper, part fibre broadband connections. But it will take at least a decade to build nationally. Government needs to make a decision on full fibre now to avoid the risk of the UK being left behind in years to come. Full fibre will deliver benefits compared to current broadband even if the expected demand growth does not materialise. Enhanced digital connectivity will also facilitate the development of smart infrastructure: infrastructure with digital connections, enabling more efficient management and maintenance," it read.

Click here to download the full report.


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