Full-fibre to reach half of UK homes in March, says regulator
Ofcom says that this is thanks to competition and investment from network builders.
UK communications regulator, Ofcom has predicted that full-fibre internet will reach half of UK homes in March, as construction of the country’s new broadband backbone continues.
According to Lindsey Fussell, Ofcom's Group Director, Network and Communications: “Just five years ago, only 6% of homes could get full-fibre. But thanks to competition and investment from network builders, that had reached 42% by September last year. Based on our current data, Ofcom now expects the 50% threshold to be passed in March, and to reach more than 80% within the next two years.”
However, despite the rapid progress in recent years, Fussell acknowledged that there is still work to do to bring faster connections to all parts of the country. She cited competition as key in helping to complete this work. “When firms compete to build better networks, that leads to more investment and innovation,” she says. “So, Ofcom has set rules for the wholesale broadband market designed to boost competition, and ensure a level playing field among operators like Openreach, Virgin Media and a range of smaller, ‘alternative’ network providers.”
These alternative network providers, or “altnets” are doubling their collective footprint each year, according to Ofcom, and together they are expected to reach 11.5 million homes by the end of this year. In addition, investment in independent broadband builders is strong, and expected to reach £17bn by 2025.
Fussell states that, for Ofcom, the alternative networks to Openreach provide “a vital part of our strategy for better broadband. They help form the engine room of the UK’s digital infrastructure.”