UK Plans to Invest 1 Billion Pounds to Expand Fiber Optic Networks


UK government has revealed plans to gather required funds for boosting next-generation networks in the country that can support increasing bandwidth demands. The bandwidth demands posed by the modern communication devices need to be addressed and the authorities are convinced that only optical fibers can take up that challenge. Local media reports that the UK government has confirmed the plans to borrow to bolster the country’s digital infrastructure.

The UK is determined to encourage investment in high-speed fiber broadband networks and 5G technology. The authorities have made plans to spend over £1billion by 2020-2021. This would be one of the biggest leaps that UK’s telecommunication infrastructure has ever made.

The Chancellor of Exchequer, Chancellor Philip Hammond expressed his thoughts on the current communication infrastructure in the UK and stressed the need for bringing world-class digital infrastructure to the UK’s future transport, business, and lifestyle. He told his ambition to make the UK a world leader in 5G, which can be done through only a full fiber network, that will provide a step change in speed, security, and reliability. UK Government will invest over £1billion in its digital infrastructure to catalyze private investment in fiber networks and to support 5G trials.

Akamai’s 2016 report says that the UK continues to rank well outside the top 10 countries for average broadband speeds. The gap between urban and rural broadband speeds remains problematic. This gap known as the digital divide is extremely worrying for the policymakers. Digital uniformity among sections of the society and among territories within a country are important while planning the country’s overall development and investment.

Incumbent telecommunication operator British Telecom (BT), whose engineering wing Openreach owns and manages access to the country’s primary broadband infrastructure. Openreach has focused its efforts on squeezing higher speeds out of existing copper-based infrastructure. BT officials still think this is the way to reduce investment. Use of existing copper networks enables them to deploy very limited optical fibers to the home rollouts. While rival broadband network providers, such as Virgin Media, typically focus on urban areas where the volume of paying customers makes the infrastructure expenditure worth their while. Mainly due to the policy of BT, UK has a lower place among the countries that are ranked by the FTTH Council based on the percentage of houses connected with optical fibers (FTTH penetration rate). The UK has just two percent of the premises having access to full-fiber connections.

UK’s newspapers report that the government’s plan to improve that figure is to encourage smaller, alternative players to push in with full fiber offerings. There will be £400M for what it dubs “gold standard” fiber broadband, with funds needing to be matched by broadband providers. o a potential £800M to fund rollouts.

The Exchequer also added that from next year April there will be 100 percent business rates relief for a five-year period on new fiber infrastructure. This will be done to support the further rollout of fiber to homes and businesses. An additional £750M will be made available to fund 5G trials. UK government will be asking the National Infrastructure Commission (NIC) for recommendations on the UK’s future economic infrastructure needs.

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