Future Telecoms Infrastructure Review (FTIR): How the Government aims to become a world leader in the next generation of mobile technology
The FTIR is a signal of intent by the Government to become a world leader in digital connectivity, ensuring fast access for all – even… Read more
The FTIR is a signal of intent by the Government to become a world leader in digital connectivity, ensuring fast access for all – even for the remote. Announced over the summer, and a much needed response to the UK now finding itself in the bottom 3 countries in the European Union. A consultation on the legislative changes needed to achieve the Government’s ambitions is forthcoming.
In order to achieve this ambitious aim, the focus of the new initiative will be on full-fibre and 5G technology, as they offer the best long-term solutions to what consumers want and what businesses need in terms of speed, resilience and reliability.
Why is this necessary?
Whilst the UK is currently ahead in superfast connectivity, with more than 95% of premises covered, it is lagging when it comes to the next generation of Fibre to the Premises (FTTP) or ‘full-fibre’ coverage. The report indicated that the UK has only 4% full fibre connections, which is some way off our European counterparts of France (28%), Spain (71%), and Portugal (89%). This deficiency is further highlighted when compared to current world leaders such as Japan (97%) and South Korea (99%).
For the UK to continue to be the best place to start and grow digital businesses, it is clear greater investment is needed to help build fixed and wireless networks that keep up with how businesses of the future operate, and how the public will consume media in the coming years.
Who will benefit?
In addition to laying down the foundations to maximise commercial investment in digital infrastructure, the Government also recognises that parts of the country are likely to need more support than they would otherwise receive through the market alone. An ‘Outside-In’ strategy will be adopted, meaning that while free market competition will serve commercially viable areas, there will be greater investment in some of the most difficult to reach areas simultaneously.
It is estimated that additional funding of £3bn-5bn is required to support the final 10% of areas not covered. The Government said, “These, often rural areas, must not be forced to wait until the rest of the country has connectivity before they can access gigabit-capable networks”.
Why is this significant?
Without such investment, the FTIR analysis indicates that full fibre broadband networks will only ever reach three quarters of the country in a best-case scenario – and it would take more than twenty years to get there. However, with these new proposals, it is now estimated that most of the UK will have access to 5G, with the aim of connecting 15 million premises to full-fibre broadband by 2025 and providing full-fibre broadband coverage to all the country by 2033.
These proposals will ensure that the UK stay ahead of the curve and remain as one of the most competitive places in the world to start and run a modern business. Sharon White, the Ofcom Chief Executive, said, “We welcome the Government’s review, and share its ambition for full-fibre and 5G networks to be rolled out right across the UK. The Government and Ofcom are working together, and with industry, to help ensure people and business get the broadband and mobile they need for the 21st century.”
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