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The Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) is to lead a major review of the UK’s telecoms market with a view to investigating how it can best support investment in future connectivity standards.
The cross-government Future Telecoms Infrastructure Review will explore what conditions make fibre-to-the-premise (FTTP) – or full-fibre – broadband networks and 5G mobile networks attractive, and will seek to establish how the government can work to promote these conditions.
DCMS said the review would underpin the wider government strategy to reinforce the quality of the UK’s infrastructure to raise productivity and help maintain a balanced economy into the future, something that will become even more critical after the UK’s scheduled exit from the European Union (EU) in 2019.
“Government has already committed more than £1bn to supporting a business case for investment in full fibre and 5G networks through investment programmes and initiatives such as our Barrier Busting Task Force,” said digital minister Matt Hancock.
“We’d like to build on what has been achieved so far, by removing future barriers before they arise, and ensuring that market and policy conditions are as good as they can be to maximise investment in new technologies.”
The review will seek evidence on a number of areas, including barriers to investment in network infrastructure, such as cost, demand, market structure and regulation.
It will also look at how investment incentives vary across the UK and across different parts of the market; and what policy changes the government might consider, such as measures to encourage competition or increase the attractiveness of commercial investment, or even direct intervention.
Matthew Hare, chief executive of rural FTTP specialist Gigaclear, welcomed news of the review, and said it was time to tear down the barriers to rolling out full-fibre networks at speed.
Read more about government infrastructure policy
- DCMS has invited public sector bodies invited to apply for funding from a £190m pot designed to stimulate local-level investment in FTTP broadband services.
- The Autumn Budget brought a further round of investment in 5G and fibre broadband projects, but some say it’s time for the government to fund roll-out, not just R&D.
- Parts of the Electronic Communications Code have been updated to help communications providers deploy new infrastructure more quickly.
“It is imperative that the government not only prioritises reliable future proofed technology, but that this is done through supporting a competitive marketplace that will encourage roll out across all areas of the UK,” said Hare.
“Gigaclear will contribute to this review and help the government to ensure the UK telecoms industry delivers a full fibre UK,” he added.
A full report on the outcome of the Future Telecoms Infrastructure Review is scheduled to be published in the summer of 2018. ... ... ... ... ... ... ...