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Survey Doubts UK’s Ability to Rollout Full Fibre Networks by 2033

Monday, November 19th, 2018 (12:01 am) - Score 853
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The latest ISPreview.co.uk survey of 1,860 online readers has found that the vast majority of respondents (86.8%) support the Government’s aspiration for universal coverage of ultrafast “full fibre” (FTTP) broadband ISP networks by 2033, but only 43.5% believe it’s actually achievable.

Earlier this year the Government made a commitment to deliver ultrafast Gigabit capable “full fibre” (FTTP/H) connections to cover 15 million premises in the United Kingdom by 2025 and after that they’ve also adopted an aspiration for universal coverage by 2033 (here), which is being supported by the changes proposed under their recent Future Telecoms Infrastructure Review (FTIR).

The proposal anticipates that the private sector will do most of the work, although it suggests that the final 10% (i.e. most rural areas) may need a public investment of between £3bn to £5bn. The good news is that 79.6% of respondents to our survey said they would support such a funding boost, although 76.9% also felt as if the Government could go further by extending the current 5 year business rates (tax) holiday on new fibre.

Do you support the Government’s aspiration to cover 100% of the UK with full fibre (FTTP) broadband by 2033?
Yes – 86.8%
No – 9.9%
Unsure – 3.2%

Do you think 2033 is achievable?
Yes – 43.5%
No – 38.5%
Maybe – 17.9%

Several billion in public money will be needed to deliver for 2033 (mostly in rural areas). Do you support this?
Yes – 79.6%
No – 20.3%

The business rates (tax) holiday on new fibre builds will end in 2022, should this be extended?
Yes – 76.9%
No – 23%

The United Kingdom currently only has “full fibre” coverage of around 5% (1.4 million) premises and this is behind almost every other country in the EU (here). The Government’s proposed plan to correct this is ambitious but it would clearly require a huge ramp-up in civil engineering from the current levels (i.e. adding around 2 million additional FTTP premises to the national coverage every year for the next 10-15 years).

The FTIR proposals provide a good starting point for the aforementioned aspiration, but the Government will eventually have to put a much bigger scoop of public funding on the table in order to stand any chance of delivering on that and until then it may lack some credibility. Equally they’ll have to be very careful about negatively distorting the existing market when they do so.

At least for now most people appear to be very supportive of the proposed aspiration. Meanwhile this month’s new survey asks whether or not you plan to switch ISP in 2019 and which of the biggest broadband providers you felt improved the most during 2018? Vote Here.

NOTE: ISPreview.co.uk surveys are likely to receive a higher proportion of tech-savvy respondents than most, although the majority of our visitors are normal consumers (i.e. they come to this site for help and assistance with basic broadband problems / questions or when hunting for a new ISP).

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Mark Jackson
By Mark Jackson
Mark is a professional technology writer, IT consultant and computer engineer from Dorset (England), he is also the founder of ISPreview since 1999 and enjoys analysing the latest telecoms and broadband developments. Find me on Twitter, , Facebook and Linkedin.
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6 Responses
  1. Joe

    Tbh if you ask people they are generally in favour of spending money on everything, think it won’t be delivered effectively and like tax cuts if they think it will benefit them….

    • AnotherTim

      You’re quite right, almost everyone wants more money spent on the NHS, housing, benefits, etc, but think it should be paid for by taxing someone else (big companies are seen as the rich tax dodgers as the moment).
      However, when it comes to the crunch I expect the government (of whatever political persuasion) will choose to spend on the NHS, policing, and whatever else they think will win votes. I don’t think broadband will be in the list in a big way if at all – most people do have sufficiently fast broadband, and those of us stuck with ADSL and EO lines won’t swing an election so can be ignored.

    • Joe

      Fwiw I think technology/scale/market competition will largely solve the BB problems without sums nearly as large as forecast being needed from gov. But ur right about bb users not being a election issue

    • AnotherTim

      I’d agree that the FTTP rollouts in major urban centres will happen due to competition – that’s starting to happen now. Also that some costs will gradually fall, but I expect that gains from that will be used up in reducing prices to consumers to encourage take-up in the areas that are covered rather than being spent on extending coverage to other areas. Competition won’t address the unprofitable areas – which are largely the areas that haven’t got FTTC yet. Even the smaller AltNets need government money to build in those areas – and I think the political will to spend money will go away before everyone in those areas have superfast broadband. I predict that for many USO will the best they can look forward to, and only where it doesn’t exceed the cost limit.

    • Joe

      AT: I think 5G has a lot of potential for bridges some of the gaps that originally sat/wireless was going to fill and while it has its issues it is generally faster/more reliable or cheaper than the alternatives…

  2. Spurple

    At current pace of progress, wireless may become good enough to displace fixed line broadband before 2033. Provided telcos maintain a sane pricing regime.

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