Home
 » ISP News » 
Sponsored

Labour Party Pledges £1.6bn to Deliver 30Mbps UK Broadband for All

Tuesday, July 31st, 2018 (7:39 am) - Score 1,661
labour political party uk

Reports claim that the UK Labour Party has committed to invest £1.6bn in order to ensure that 100% of premises can access a minimum broadband speed of 30Mbps from supporting ISPs within 4 years, which is a step up from the current plan for a 10Mbps Universal Service Obligation (USO).

The idea of a 30Mbps USO (usually accompanied by a minimum upload of 6Mbps), which Ofcom and the Broadband Stakeholders Group have previously estimated could cost up to a max of £2bn (here and here), is nothing new and indeed Labour first pledged it as part of last year’s 2017 General Election Manifesto (here); the House of Lords has also touted it a few times (here). But thanks to the FT (paywall) we now know how much funding Labour would commit.

By comparison the current Conservative Government is in the final stages of implementing a new legally binding 10Mbps download speed USO (1Mbps upload), which will be introduced from 2020 (details here and here). Many have criticised the decision to set the USO speed so low but it’s worth considering the coverage plan for existing “superfast broadband” networks and the potential complications of adopting a faster minimum.

At present the national £1.7bn Broadband Delivery UK programme already anticipates that 30Mbps+ capable fixed line broadband should cover around 97-98% of premises by 2020, which means that the primary focus of any USO will be on that final c.2%. USOs are usually only intended to cater for an absolute minimum starting level of service performance (legal backstop), which must be available upon request from a supporting ISP (i.e. not an automatic upgrade).

One other concern with a 30Mbps USO, other than cost, is that it might damage the growth of alternative network ISPs, particularly if BT (Openreach) were chosen as the primary supplier (i.e. risk of rebuilding a monopoly position). Distorting the competitive market would not be desirable at a time when the Government and Ofcom are also trying to foster competition for Openreach (mind you they don’t always get this balance right).

Admittedly Labour hasn’t yet fleshed out whether their ’30Mbps for all’ style proposal would reflect a true legally binding USO or merely a soft service commitment, with the latter perhaps requiring some form of competitive tender process, like the BDUK scheme (this might mitigate some concerns about market distortion – depending upon the detail).

The current Government would no doubt counter by saying that they’ve recently pledged to support a huge national roll-out of 1000Mbps capable “full fibre” (FTTP/H) broadband, which aims to ensure that 15 million premises will have access by 2025 and then nationwide to all by 2033 (here and here).

However, the longer-term 2033 goal is obviously many years away and it’s been suggested that around £3bn – £5bn of public funding would be needed to help deliver this to the final 10% of premises, which we assume would be matched by private investment. Even then we strongly suspect that more money may still be required to deliver universal FTTP.

The problem is that so far the Government has only said roughly how much the full fibre roll-out would cost and they haven’t actually committed the funding or said where it might come from. As we’ve said before such a long-term deployment strategy would also require strong cross-party support, which is necessary to avoid the usual problem of policy changes during elections. Not so easy with the current level of deep ideological divisions between parties.

Meanwhile some telecoms operators appear to be informing the FT that Labour hasn’t yet engaged with the industry over their 30Mbps proposal. Mind you that’s fairly normal and we tend to only get the detail on such policy ideas once a party enters government, assuming that ever happens. It’s worth noting that the Liberal Democrats also support a 30Mbps policy and they proposed a cost of £2bn (here).

Leave a Comment
27 Responses
  1. Avatar Matthew Williams

    I would be all for this one caveat that all the coverage delivered with that money has to be FTTP or FTTdp. Else it’s going be wasted as it’s going need be funded again in a decades time.

    But then I’m sure some would say that perhaps 1.6 billion isn’t enough deliver that to last 2%

    • Avatar A_Builder

      @Matthew Williams

      I simply don’t see how that kind of money is going to achieve anything much. What we certainly don’t want to be doing is more upgrading of thin copper cables: which was nuts as for the same effort/less money (copper is expensive glass cheap) the new cable bundle could have contained fibre of just been fibre anyway.

      I agree anything being subsidised now has to be full fibre of whatever flavour.

      Full fibre is the only solution to most of the last 2-5% anyway other than over the air tech.

      That being said if they were able to enable B4N style self build that money would go a long long way. Wait, I see another pink flying pig going past the window.

    • Avatar Joe

      Well 1.6Bn would get you a significant proportion into the last 10-20% that won’t get FTTP under any commercial case. While i’m generally in favour of FTTP I do get slightly exasperated with the FTTP only argument. It clearly makes more sense to use cheaper Gfast (for short runs) and take the money saved over FTTP and spend it on locations where only FTTP will deliver a meaningful speed upgrades.

      (You could spend a small fortune, in dense urban locations, where Gfast will deliver very high speeds digging the roads up to build FTTP which will give them no more useful speed in the short to medium term (10yrs).

    • Avatar A_Builder

      @Joe

      The maths on FTTP vs Gfast is actually pretty clear.

      Gfast has a useful life of up to 10 years at present data growth rates/copper retirement plans.
      FTTP has no such sunset.

      Therefore the period to earn the Return on the Investment on FTTP is very long whereas Gfast has to have fully paid back in the usability window.

      FTTP also earns other revenue streams from being able to provide B2B services at higher rates. Hence OR’s, sensible, One Network strategy. Also with full FTTP copper network maintenance can be reduced to zero.

      Given that FTTP is not as crazily expensive to deploy as has previously been made out with the fantasy £25Bn figure of yesteryear the ROI on FTTP looks pretty healthy to me. And I have quite a good understanding of cost structure of civils.

      And just to get everyone thinking about this in another way: I actually did some back of a fag packet calcs the other day and came to the conclusion that for every Gfast pod deployed you could get a connectorised block FTTP onto 3-4 phone poles. This doesn’t sound good until you realise that the reach of Gfast is typically two phone poles each way from the pod. So actually you spend the same money for the same coverage only the investment becomes obsolete after 10 years as opposed to spending the same money on something that will earn money for the foreseeable. Now that is not what I would call a good business decision.

    • Avatar Joe

      Yeah I seen the costings in the real world and they can vary pretty widely. Clearly when the FTTP route is close to Gfast costs (with Amortisation) then by all means go that route. But what I was saying in the previous post is don’t be ideological about it. There are going to be plenty of cases where the Gfast costs are just substantially cheaper. Building FTTP then (and taking it out of a finite post of money) is not a good plan if that takes away/delays FTTP from properties that are USO.

    • Avatar A_Builder

      @Joe

      I don’t think it is being ideological to say that where it is cost neutral on Investment and the return period is longer then going down the long term and superior pathway of FTTP is best.

      I agree that the analysis that I did only works where it is ducted and not direct buried: but that covers a big % of houses.

      Where it is direct buried good quality copper it might, just might make sense to do GFast. But set against that is the need to get the fibre to the PCP which meant digging up some footways anyway and probably going past the foot of a bunch of phone poles.

      I’m pretty tech neutral actually. I use an iPhone 7 because it works just fine although I can perfectly well buy myself an iPhone X on the business if I wanted to. I will upgrade when the 7 doesn’t do something I need to do or it breaks.

      But I am a BT shareholder and would like to see long term ROI thinking rather than short term cheeseparing.

    • Avatar Joe

      I’m not trying to have a go at you 🙂 I’m just a ‘ends not means’ person. I don’t care what tech they use if it is the best tech for the circumstances on the ground and the pot of money that is available.

    • Avatar A_Builder

      @Joe

      I appreciate the sentiment.

      The quality of debate on the forum has improved in the last few months mainly because people are being a bit more thoughtful and fact driven. And nicer to each other!

      I agree I don’t care what the tech is, provided it works properly and makes long term commercial sense.

    • Avatar Fastman

      the 1.6 will not get you all premises unless some of that was satellite or FWA — this is a political statement .and certainly no substance I would have guess that the R100 contract to bring 30 meg in Scotland alone will be getting close to that figure without England

      crazy

      Gfast only works in urban due to premise density if will never widely used in rural due to distance from cab to premises and certainly I would not expect to see it in an technology for the last 1 or 2 %

    • Avatar A_Builder

      @Fastman

      The debate @Joe and I were having was off topic and related to FTTP vs GFAST.

      I was saying I couldn’t see any economic case for GFast at all except where there is no duct to the pole or everything is direct buried.

      We both agreed GFast only made sense where the long term amortised economics sracked up.

      And we both agreed that the exact tech was pretty irrelevant if it got the job done well into the future.

      Anyway you are entitled to think that is a crazy approach if you want to but it is a pragmatic approach as it simply follows general business investment principles.

      However, I don’t think that any public money should be spent on non fibre solutions.

    • Avatar Fastman

      Anyway you are entitled to think that is a crazy approach if you want to but it is a pragmatic approach as it simply follows general business investment principles.

      its a crazy approach due to massive cost for little or no benefit and certainly no value for money . . pragmatic hhmm spend a fortune get nothing in return— that not pragmatic and certainly no value for money , the futher you get to the last 1 -2 the less you do FTTC (especially GFAST as that very short distance) as pcps are there are futher away from the community they actually service) so any form of VDSL becomes a non starter

  2. Avatar Neb

    Can we (UK) not think anywhere near big anymore?
    Less than half of the total (forecast) cost of HS2 will deliver 1Gbps for all! (To note I’m for HS2).

    10Mbps to 30Mbps… Even then that’s just download speed.

    Lack luster to say the least and the average person won’t necessarily understand what that means to them either. Average UK FTTC speed currently is over 30Mbps download already – it’s another nothingy pledge!

    Come on politicians start leading into the future and beyond!
    Gigabit and symmetrical pledge.

    • Avatar Matthew Williams

      To be honest 30Mbps USO could be a big deal better than 10mbps 4K streaming is just starting to hit off you can’t do that on 10mbps but can on 30Mbps

    • Avatar Stophiding

      You can’t stream much 4K with 30mbps. Perhaps netflix.

      The likes of BT Sport 4K requires around 35mpbs. I believe the BBC 4K trial suggested users have AT LEAST 40mbps available.

      With Sky wanting to move to an IP solution as opposed to satellite, 30mbps isn’t going to cut it for multiple devices all streaming HD content while someone is gaming and another watching 4K content.

    • Avatar Matthew Williams

      True it would be the absolute minimum with increases in codec perhaps might be doable reason I said the money should be used for FTTP or FTTdp which would nearly certainly be able to deliver over 30Mbps

    • Avatar Steve Jones

      I find it difficult to justify public subsidies to enable 4K streaming. To me that falls outside of a social need. Cases based on economic generation and access to essential services fair enough, but this seems to be beyond that.

    • Avatar Mike

      Government doesn’t drive innovation forward, only backwards or away.

      Remove regulation/taxes and let the market sort it out.

  3. Avatar Skyrocket

    Labour Party will never become the government ever again! Tory every five yeears for me.

    • Please try to keep the debate focused on the policy rather than the party side of things, as the latter invariably turns in to an ugly trolling session.

  4. Avatar Joe

    Can’t see how this is going to work even in terms of their own ideology. Given both La/Lib want to keep the UK in the EU single market with its rules they won’t be able to bias in favour of small suppliers (altnets) but will all but inevitably end up giving OR a new monopoly which they never cease to moan about….

  5. Avatar wireless pacman

    Be fun to see how labour would achieve the 2022 deadline given that the next election is in, erm 2022.

  6. Avatar Jazzy

    I do hope that Diane Abbott wasn’t tasked with calculating up these figures

    We know how spectacularly wrong she gets things

  7. Avatar alex

    Behind the times this shithole country will always be with the no brain so called government

Comments RSS Feed

Javascript must be enabled to post (most browsers do this automatically)

Privacy Notice: Please note that news comments are anonymous, which means that we do NOT require you to enter any real personal details to post a message. By clicking to submit a post you agree to storing your comment content, display name, IP, email and / or website details in our database, for as long as the post remains live.

Only the submitted name and comment will be displayed in public, while the rest will be kept private (we will never share this outside of ISPreview, regardless of whether the data is real or fake). This comment system uses submitted IP, email and website address data to spot abuse and spammers. All data is transferred via an encrypted (https secure) session.

NOTE 1: Sometimes your comment might not appear immediately due to site cache (this is cleared every few hours) or it may be caught by automated moderation / anti-spam.

NOTE 2: Comments that break our rules, spam, troll or post via known fake IP/proxy servers may be blocked or removed.
Cheapest Superfast ISPs
  • Hyperoptic £19.95 (*22.00)
    Avg. Speed 50Mbps, Unlimited
    Gift: Promo Code: HYPER20
  • NOW TV £22.00 (*40.00)
    Avg. Speed 36Mbps, Unlimited
    Gift: None
  • SSE £22.00
    Avg. Speed 35Mbps, Unlimited
    Gift: None
  • xln telecom £22.74 (*47.94)
    Avg. Speed 66Mbps, Unlimited
    Gift: None
  • Vodafone £22.95
    Avg. Speed 35Mbps, Unlimited
    Gift: None
Prices inc. Line Rental | View All
The Top 20 Category Tags
  1. BT (2697)
  2. FTTP (2546)
  3. FTTC (1745)
  4. Building Digital UK (1685)
  5. Politics (1580)
  6. Openreach (1544)
  7. Business (1365)
  8. FTTH (1287)
  9. Statistics (1192)
  10. Mobile Broadband (1161)
  11. Fibre Optic (1037)
  12. 4G (1001)
  13. Wireless Internet (988)
  14. Ofcom Regulation (987)
  15. Virgin Media (963)
  16. EE (668)
  17. Sky Broadband (651)
  18. TalkTalk (634)
  19. Vodafone (628)
  20. 5G (464)
Promotion
Helpful ISP Guides and Tips
»
»
»
»
»
»
»
»
»
»
»
»
»
»
»
»
»
»
»
»
»
»
»
»
»
»
»
»
»
Sponsored

Copyright © 1999 to Present - ISPreview.co.uk - All Rights Reserved - Terms , Privacy and Cookie Policy , Links , Website Rules , Contact