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i3 Group - UK Government Must Commit to 100Mbps FTTH Broadband

Posted: 23rd Apr, 2009 By: MarkJ
The CEO of i3 Group (H2O Networks, Fibrecity), Elfed Thomas, has called on the UK government to give a real commitment to future 100Mbps Fibre to the Home (FTTH - fibre optic) broadband services or risk the country being left behind in the wake of a worldwide digital revolution.

Mr Thomas called the government’s plans for a 2Mbps universal minimum broadband speed (USO) "super slow", warned that BT's plans for a 40Mbps FTTC service was a "limited ambition" and believes consumers deserve access to super fast broadband and should not be limited by antiquated copper networks.

i3 Group's CEO, Elfed Thomas, said: "We are on the verge of a communications revolution in this country and the deployment of an infrastructure that will serve this nation for generations to come. For anyone to suggest that we let this opportunity pass with an ‘anything will do’ attitude is scandalous. To say the public does not want 100Mbps is a smokescreen for the admission that BT is incapable of providing super fast broadband due to the limitations of its antiquated copper network.

The opportunities offered by fibre optics, both now and in the future, can not be underestimated. How can we possibly seek to deploy a national fibre optic network only to limit its speed to 40Mbps? This notion will result in BT’s network becoming obsolete in the very foreseeable future. Digital Britain requires ambitious, forward thinking leaders who understand that we are not building a network to fulfil our current needs, rather we are investing in the future.

i3 Group's subsidiary, Fibrecity, is currently installing true FTTH to homes in Bournemouth, both new build and, crucially, existing properties. The seaside town is the first of 10 Fibrecities nationwide and will be connected by the end of 2010. Dundee will be next and fibre deployment will start this summer. Mr Thomas said i3 Group offered proof that a 100Mbps network can be cost effective.

He said: "Such low aspiration is an insult to UK plc, especially when we have a proven business model for fibre optic deployment which is already paying dividends for our customers and investors. With presence in Bournemouth and roll out starting in Dundee and South Ayrshire, we’re not simply chasing revenue by targeting the big cities like Manchester, Birmingham and London, as we want to see an inclusive, national rollout."

Thomas concluded by saying that anything less than 100Mbps FTTH would leave the UK facing an uphill struggle to compete. However not all towns and cities have sewers capable of supporting i3's more cost effective solution.

Similarly while FTTH may be proven in dense urban environments, extending it out to rural areas is another matter. Faced with the highest national debt since the end of WWII (roughly 10% of GDP), the UK government would be hard pressed to spend tens of billions more on a true FTTH network.
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