UK connections by altnets surpass 1 million
The Independent Networks Co-operative Association (INCA) has released its Metrics for the UK independent network sector report for 2022, compiled by Point Topic.
Amongst its findings, the report states that, for the first time, the total number of live connections provided by the altnets is above 1m. In addition, more than 5.5 million homes and businesses in the UK can now connect to an independent fibre broadband network. This represents 111 per cent growth year-on-year, compared with 110 per cent from 2019–2020 and 52 per cent from 2018–2019. What’s more, and for the first time, the total number of live connections provided by alternative network providers, or the ‘alt nets’ is above 1m.
Some of the key drivers include the independent sector continuing to pull in significant sums of private funding with investment and expenditure commitments predicted to reach £17.7bn by the end of 2025. When combined with the £12bn announced by BT Group, the £5bn announced by government, and £2bn planned by VM02, investment levels will exceed the previous estimates of £30bn for bringing next generation networks to every property in the UK.
Interestingly, the report also details some of the operators’ main concerns, which include:
Planning and streetworks delays
The threat of overbuild from taxpayer-funded, Project Gigabit procurements
Delivery times for services from Openreach or other operators (e.g., EAD circuits, PIA)
The impact of BDUK's pause on community-led ISPs Gigabit Vouchers; and
Access to skills and labour.
INCA’s chief executive, Malcolm Corbett commented: ‘This continued high level of investment, coupled with commitments from others in the private sector like BT and Virgin Media, and the money being put in by government, shows that the UK is on track, for the first time in its history, to have proper broadband infrastructure competition. Independent network operators are a key piece of this connectivity jigsaw which will offer consumers real choice and drive innovation in the broadband services they consume.’
INCA chairman, Alex Blowers added: ‘This report shows the increasing maturity of the independent broadband sector”, commented. “It is now transitioning from fundraising and planning mode to delivery and execution stage and is undeniably a key partner in the delivery of a 21st century digital UK. It is now crucial that the government and Ofcom ensure momentum is maintained, by evolving the underlying policy and regulatory framework in support of the infrastructure competition that has now arrived in the UK.’