The Independent Networks Cooperative Association (INCA) and Point Topic have partnered to publish a new report: Metrics for the UK altnet sector Scale, coverage, ambitions, concerns. Amongst the key findings, the report reveals that nearly one million UK homes and businesses are now in reach of ultrafast full fibre connectivity via alternative network providers (altnets).
The report provides an overview of the UK’s altnet operator sector as of end-2017 and early 2018, including scale, coverage, ambitions and concerns. It includes both fixed and wireless network operators. Drawing on survey responses from INCA members, UKWISPA and Point Topic research programmes, the research additionally estimates that alternative providers with fixed wireless access networks can reach up to a further two million premises, mainly in rural areas.
By 2025, it is expected that the number of homes and businesses passed by full fibre infrastructure supplied by altnets will rise to nearly 14.25 million, covering 50 per cent of the population, which may include some double counting from overbuild. This will include around 4.8 million live connections.
The report also forecasts that an estimated 1.92 million premises will have the ability to order altnet fixed network high-speed broadband services by the end of 2019, with an estimated 554,700 subscribers connected. Altnets currently account for 207,500 live connections on fixed networks and an estimated 100,500 on Fixed Wireless Access infrastructure in the UK. These figures place altnets collectively as the third competitor in new full fibre infrastructure provision, alongside BT Openreach and Virgin Media. The altnet sector has been buoyed by announcements of more than £2.5 billion of private sector investment and a supportive public policy environment.
Digital and culture minister, Magot James commented on the findings: ‘It's fantastic to see the growth of the new companies building fibre and wireless networks. We're creating the right environment to stimulate industry investment, and I'm delighted by the altnets' ambitious plans to reach millions more homes and businesses over the next few years. We are also supporting these goals through government investment in new fibre networks, 5G projects and by removing business rates for new fibre deployment for five years.’
INCA says that the report will be regularly updated, with the next update due in time for the organisation’s annual meeting on 17 October 2018.