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Broadband ISPs Respond to the 2019 UK General Election Result

Saturday, December 14th, 2019 (8:17 am) - Score 3,915

Yesterday saw the Conservative party return to power after securing a large majority in the 2019 UK General Election. In response broadband ISPs have politely welcomed the “new” government but have called upon PM Boris Johnson to get on with the job of implementing his commitment to gigabit connectivity for all by 2025.

Admittedly the industry would have given a polite welcome no matter who was crowned the victor on Friday, although the stakes this time were arguably much higher after the Labour Party threatened to take a hammer blow to the entire sector by nationalising BT and offering free “full fibre” connectivity to all (here). The latter pledge was arguably more damaging than the nationalisation part (ISPs could never compete with free full fibre).

The policy, which threatened to put hundreds of ISPs out of business (affecting c.100,000 jobs) and stall the inflow of private investment (i.e. pausing the roll-out of full fibre until nationalisation was completed – likely to have taken several years), was not widely supported by the sector itself (here). Nevertheless a lot of ordinary people will have understandably viewed the offer of free full fibre more positively.

None of this is to say that Boris’ business-as-usual approach is ideal but clearly many broadband ISPs will perhaps quietly be breathing a sigh of relief (albeit bitter-sweet for some), even if this may not extend to other areas of proposed Government policy (e.g. Brexit and internet regulation) where plenty of major industry concerns exist. Indeed the sector’s viewpoint may have been very different had Labour adopted a less radical approach to broadband.

Nevertheless the industry’s reaction has been broadly to call on the Government to deliver on what they’ve promised (here). In short, this means investing £5bn (focused on helping those in the final 20% of hardest to reach premises) to ensure that “gigabit-capable broadband” (via FTTP, Cable / DOCSIS, 5G etc.) is able to reach every UK home by the end of 2025 (here) and that’s still a very difficult target to hit.

On top of that they’ve also promised to help extend geographic 4G mobile coverage to 95% of the UK by the end of 2025, which forms part of a £1bn industry-led agreement that is being supported by £500m from the Government (here). However we should point out that they originally, at the 2017 election, promised to achieve this by the end of 2022. Oops.

UK ISP Association Statement (ISPA)

ISPA congratulates Prime Minister Boris Johnson on his clear and decisive victory and looks forward to the greater political certainty this will mean for our members.

Broadband was an important policy issue during the election campaign as radical plans for nationalisation and free broadband were pitched against an ambitious plan to deliver nationwide gigabit-capable broadband by 2025, with £5bn of public funding to help do so. Throughout the election, ISPA made the case that the vast majority of broadband rollout is delivered and funded by the industry, with billions of commercial funds currently being invested in gigabit-capable broadband networks to improve speeds

ISPA calls on the Government to now grasp the opportunity to combine proposed government funding, and the significant commercial investment, with urgent regulatory reform to the sector to ensure the UK gets maximum benefit from these investments.”

Malcolm Corbett, INCA CEO, said:

“On behalf of our members INCA offers congratulations to the Prime Minister for his historic General Election victory. Our members welcome the clarity of the result and the greater certainty this brings. We look forward to working with the new ministerial team as INCA’s members continue to build the best possible digital infrastructure our country needs and deserves.”

Phillip Jansen, BT Group CEO, said:

“There are lots of things for the new government to get done, few more important to the UK than speeding up the delivery of full-fibre broadband. Our new Ministers can take some simple, immediate steps to cut through the red tape and help us build like the clappers. We’ve got 33,000 brilliant Openreach engineers ready to roll.”

Lloyd Felton, CEO of County Broadband, said:

“The re-elected Prime Minister has already made digital infrastructure a notable investment pledge in his victory speech following his campaign commitment for the rollout of gigabit broadband connectivity. We look forward to working with the digital minister in support of his promise to connect the entire UK, including rural and hard-to-reach areas, to future-ready networks.

County Broadband has big plans to connect thousands of rural communities to our Hyperfast future-ready networks in 2020 across the East of England, making the region a flagbearer for world class digital connectivity.”

End.

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Mark Jackson
By Mark Jackson
Mark is a professional technology writer, IT consultant and computer engineer from Dorset (England), he also founded ISPreview in 1999 and enjoys analysing the latest telecoms and broadband developments. Find me on Twitter, , Facebook and Linkedin.
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23 Responses
  1. Avatar James W

    I’m glad they romped home!
    (But I understand some won’t be)

    But the gov need to get on with changing the legislation to make it easier on the roll out of fttp.
    As wayleaves are still a massive issue. Which causing more delays than is necessary.

    • Avatar Rahul

      You are right!

      In fact if Corbyn in the first place promised that they will implement new legislation’s to simplify wayleave agreements for Fibre broadband installation into private lands and buildings/properties, this would’ve been a far more realistic and respectable pledge.

      Renationlizing BT Openreach means altnet providers will hesitate to build their networks which will result in a slower rollout of Full Fibre. Because if you are relying solely on BT Openreach to provide you with FTTP it is going to take years!

      There are many places across London that have only Hyperoptic and in rural areas Gigaclear, etc. If it wasn’t for the altnet providers it would take over a decade to reach some places with free Openreach FTTP. These altnet providers might only focus on business places rather than residential areas knowing that they don’t stand a chance getting subscribers if Openreach provided you a service for free.

      Also I’d rather spend money but have a variety of ISP providers to choose from instead of being stuck with only one network provider. Free does not necessarily mean better, it could mean a deteriorated quality of service, bad customer support, lack of free router, etc. And Jeremy Corbyn lost the plot with this promise.

      Yes, I do not believe Boris will deliver Full Fibre for all by 2025, that is equally unrealistic, but perhaps it is a little bit less of an irritating promise.

      In a way I am somewhat relieved that Labour did not win because I was worried that this may delay FTTP rollout. Now it is important for the government to focus on overcoming wayleave barriers with FTTP. The sooner new legislation’s are made the better chance there is to achieve Full Fibre 2033.

    • Avatar EndlessWaves

      If only FPTP was as good as FTTP.

      The lib dems gained 1.3 million votes and their MP count dropped by 1. While the conservatives only gained 0.27 million votes yet their MP count rose by 47.

      The conservatives won because labour collapsed, and in that scenario the current system massively favours the next largest party rather than the one that gains the most votes.

      But there are lots of numbers to show how the election went, are there any figures to show how many premesis are being limited by permission/wayleave issues and how many are funding limited?

    • Avatar A_Builder

      “are there any figures to show how many premesis are being limited by permission/wayleave issues and how many are funding limited?“

      Now that would be really useful information to get evidence lead policy changes.

      Trouble is collecting it would be a Doomsday book scale exercise!

    • Avatar Rahul

      It’s very difficult to get that sort of information. Because most of the times if you contact different altnet providers asking them on how they’ll overcome the wayleave issues their response is always vague such as “register your interest” and to try and inform all your neighbours about the benefits of full fibre, etc “and we’ll take care of the rest”.

      The thing is, you could do all of that hard work and still not get granted the permission for FTTP from your management team like in my case.

      For example only Hyperoptic give you some sort of clues. https://hyperoptic.com/map/?residential
      I’ve been keeping a regular eye on some of the residential buildings (clicking the grey markers on the map) that haven’t been granted any permission. 3 Awaiting building permission

      “We are yet to receive permission to install Hyperoptic Full Fibre broadband to your building.”

      I have also been observing the Hyperoptic representatives of these buildings from time to time change. It looks as though Hyperoptic are trying to better convince the estate managements of these private owned buildings to make an agreement happen by changing the representative with someone more convincing. That doesn’t of-course always work.

      Meanwhile our 2 other properties by Tower Hamlets Homes have agreements granted with Hyperoptic without any efforts or registering interests being made. And I know that even after the permissions are granted, this is still going to be a long process before the installation gets completed. We are tackling two things here, a long delay in getting the permission granted and then another long delay for the installation to start and complete. I’ve seen first hand evidence of several buildings marked orange where it has taken 2-3 years after the permission is granted for them to turn green “accepting orders”. You can imagine how long this is going to take for the entire country.

    • Avatar A_Buikder

      @Rahul

      I do feel the pain.

      I had something similar getting FTTP into some office buildings and just had to do a bit of commercial strong arming to get it done.

      It is hard to strike a balance between the needs of investors in property, who need to be protected, and the needs of tenants / leasees who also need to have connectivity rights protected.

      Trouble is that unless the full scale of the problem is properly exposed and understood any forced ‘solutions’ may have unintended consequences.

    • Avatar Rahul

      @A_Builder: Well it is a little bit less painful to swallow now that my EO Line has finally been upgraded to FTTC in October. 🙂 So in January my ADSL contract will end with Plusnet and I’ll be choosing a new FTTC package for the first time, can’t wait!

      Now if I didn’t get upgraded to FTTC, of-course I would’ve been more frustrated that the wayleave with Hyperoptic did not pass for my building. The two other buildings that have permissions granted for Hyperoptic from Tower Hamlets Homes are of no use to me as I rent them out. Perhaps the only positive with this is happy tenants who are more likely to stay as a result of having decent broadband. One of them has no plans even for FTTC, so Hyperoptic as an altnet has come to the rescue.

      The problem now of-course is, the fact Openreach upgraded some EO Lines to FTTC after 10+ years of waiting suggests that it is going to take another long wait to get FTTP from Openreach. This is why now our only option is FTTP/H from altnet providers.

      Corbyn obviously made a huge mistake by offering free Full Fibre using Openreach network, he is unaware that this will naturally result in a much slower FTTP roll-out especially if you are relying on one network provider only while deterring the rest of the altnets from investing. As most people reading these articles will agree that 100% FTTP coverage by 2033 will happen mostly from a combination of altnet providers who will not over-build. FTTP over-build is something that I believe will happen in 2040-50 but that’s a very long time away.

      This is why so many people were irritated from Labour’s offer on Full Fibre by 2030 and that alone may have costed thousands of votes. Even people who don’t follow ISPreview and thinkbroadband will have known this was a fantasy pledge.

  2. Avatar Mark

    If you actually read what is in the Tory manifesto (p43), it is watered-down again to “We want to roll out gigabit broadband across the country by 2025, with £5 billion in funding already promised, and provide greater mobile coverage across the country.” Other commitments are “we will” rather than “we want to”, so all they are actually committing to is the wish, not the actual doing…

  3. Avatar David Williams

    The manifesto made several references to the pledge that were vague, but in one place it does say “We
    intend to bring full fibre and gigabit-
    capable broadband to every home and
    business across the UK by 2025.”

    I hope we can interpret that as “full fibre” for every home/business, rather than technologies like 5G.

    • Avatar Mark

      You’re right – I should have searched more thoroughly. But what’s written doesn’t make sense – “full fibre and gigabit-capable” is tautology, and I wouldn’t hold my breath waiting for the original discredited full fibre by 2025 to happen. Let’s be positive though, at least the politicians are putting some money on the table to start the process.

  4. Avatar David

    Corbyn would have put many ISP’s out of business – He was told so by some small ISP owner on LBC last week. I am glad He lost

  5. Avatar Robert leith

    I’m old enough to remember the GPO , which was a public asset privatised by thatcher and handed over to investors for the purpose of profit only , bt , sky virgin will empty your pockets as quick as they can I believe a nationalised network without the main component of greed wouldn’t put any isp out of business , it doesn’t help that working class voters sold there soul and voted Tory , the same people who probably disliked thatcher , who once said “there is no society only a nation of individuals”

    • Avatar DontMakeMeLaugh

      Dear Comrade Keith

      It was BT in 1984 (not the GPO) and was actually sold not handed over as you claim for £1.30 per share raising £7.8 Billion.

    • Avatar DontMakeMeLaugh

      Dear Comrade Keith

      It was BT in 1984 (not the GPO) and was actually sold not handed over as you claim for £1.30 per share raising £7.8 Billion.

    • Avatar Robert leith

      Don’t make me laugh your missing the point , a public asset sold to into private hands same thing any way you cut it who got the 7.8 billion .

    • Avatar mel

      In addition to the 7.8 billion, wasn’t there another half billion or so in windfall tax levied on shareholders by later Labour government?

    • Avatar Brian

      The £7.8 billion went on public services as it went into the Governments income stream.

    • Avatar Roger_Gooner

      I’m old enough to remember Post Office Telecommunications (which became British Telecommunications in 1981) failing to provide me with a phone line for several months as the exchange was full. And I have some recollection of they being the monopoly seller of handsets. Governments aren’t always good at running monopolies.

  6. Avatar Boris Johnson

    Good riddance Labour Party has lost! Serve them right for rejected Brexit same as Jo Swindon.

    Now get the BREXIT DONE Boris

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    Sincerely,
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