UK ISPs combine to set ‘Boris fibre’ conditions

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UK operators have outlined their conditions to make PM Boris Johnson’s demand for full-fibre broadband “for all” by 2025 a reality.

They say urgent action is required within 12 months in four key issues. In an open letter from the Internet Services Providers’ Association and the Federation of Communications Services and Independent Networks Cooperative Association they state: “The industry stands ready to rise to this challenge, but we need a Prime Minister who can provide the direction, idealism and commitment to fulfil this ambition.”

Members include BT, Sky, Virgin Media, Google and Vodafone. BT chief Philip Jansen already visited the Prime Minister asking that his government creates the right investment environment to make universal full-fibre possible.

The telecom organisations highlight four key areas which they say need addressing within in one year if the Prime Minister’s target is to be achieved:

  • Reform of the ‘fibre tax’ – the organisations argue that fibre cables are still taxed as if they were to business premises. “Significant reform to this fibre tax would provide an immediate boost to the industry and significantly unlock more ambitious rollout plans,” they say.
  • Wayleaves – plans to allow telecoms providers access to buildings and land to deliver broadband services where landlords are unresponsive need to be implemented as quickly as possible. Too often unresponsive landlords delay rollout in urban and rural areas, the organisations say.
  • New builds – telcos claim too many new build homes are being developed without fibre connectivity as standard and plans to mandate fibre to all new builds should be put in place without delay.
  • Skills – “National fibre rollout is one of Britain’s greatest engineering challenges,” the letter says. The groups call for investment in digital and engineering skills needs to be prioritised.

The letter notes: “Nationwide full fibre coverage is not a can that can be kicked down the road, and these issues need to be resolved by your Government within the next 12 months to ensure that industry can continue to accelerate rollout… Industry is ready and willing to work with yourself, your Government and the new Digital Secretary to ensure that Britain’s connectivity is fit for the future. But that work needs to start now, and 100 per cent fibre coverage requires a 100 per cent commitment from Government.”


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