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UK altnets urge continued gigabit investment

October 13, 2020

By Colin Mann

The continued strong interest and engagement from the investment community in the UK’s independent network sector must be sustained if the UK wants achieve status as a gigabit nation, according to trade association the Independent Networks Co-operative Association (INCA).

A Point Topic report commissioned by INCA shows over £1.76 billion (€1.95bn) worth of private funding related to the independent sector was announced between the start of 2019 and September 2020. These figures are on top of an estimated £5.7 billion of private investment-related announcements already made in the sector, bringing the total to over £7.6 billion. INCA CEO Malcolm Corbett welcomed the figures but warned against letting the momentum slow.

“This level of investment is really healthy for the industry and reflects how important the challenger networks are in keeping Britain connected,” he stated.” It also shows that the independent sector is playing a decisive role in getting as close to the government’s 2025 gigabit coverage target as possible.”

“To ensure that this momentum builds, it’s crucial that these operators are supported, particularly in rural areas, ensuring that the Government’s Outside-In funding policy succeeds and that all communities benefit from new digital infrastructure,” he urged.

INCA’s member operators have participated in a round of webinars with Government officials to discuss the rural funding programme. They are also engaging with regulator Ofcom to ensure their investment, particularly in rural areas, is recognised in the latest market review of the telecoms sector.

“The feedback we’ve had from our members during the webinars is that reaching the 2025 target requires more than just funding. What is just as important is having access to skilled workforce, a competitive market that includes challenger operators, and directing investment at areas that need it most. These issues will be discussed at our Annual Conference – The Road Ahead to 2025 on November 3rd with those responsible for defining telecom policy, such as Matt Warman MP, a minister at the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport,” added Corbett.

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