The rollout of full fibre is being driven by a number of factors including digital transformation, the copper switch off, and end-user demand. How much progress has been made in the last twelve months?
Access to a Gigabit-capable connection continues to be a postcode lottery for many end-users. The latest stats reveal that 32 per cent of the UK is in reach of full fibre, leaving a substantial 68 per cent without (source ThinkBroadband).
That said, delivery of ultrafast infrastructure has accelerated across the UK, with progress over the last year largely as expected. This has been down to the effort of both the altnets and incumbents – the altnet community is collectively making significant investments, which is comparable to that of BT and Virgin’s.
Much of this fibre has been delivered to areas with the highest returns, where there is high end-user density and demand for services. Project Gigabit has been designed to address this imbalance, delivering fibre from the outside in, to ensure the less commercially favourable or viable areas aren’t left behind.
A year on from the launch, where is Project Gigabit up to?
Project Gigabit has had a slow start. The pandemic has played a significant role in lengthening the timelines and as a result we can expect to see the first areas awarded in the second half of this year.
Consequently, Project Gigabit hasn’t delivered what it should in the first twelve months. There are many positives though, as DCMS has applied many of the lessons learnt from the superfast programme, which will ultimately make the process more straightforward and easier for altnets to engage with.
How important is collaboration between operators to ensuring full fibre UK?
Collaboration between the network providers will play a vital part in its success. On the wider rollout, we’re already seeing a lot more joined up thinking across the altnets, where different businesses are working together to better serve the end-user.
This presents a huge opportunity for the channel, both in respect of the provision of connectivity, but also the ‘over the top’ services which is where the value add is for them.
In the ‘not-spot’ areas targeted by Project Gigabit, we can expect there to be strong take up driven by pent up demand for connectivity that will power all the services that they will have struggled to have derived any benefit from.
What role is ITS taking in full fibre UK?
As specialists in business connectivity, we operate open access wholesale networks. Taking an indirect approach, we have built a partner programme that offers ISPs, MSPs, resellers high quality ‘off the shelf’ connectivity solutions, as well as creating tailored solutions for larger scale projects, and infrastructure for other operators.
While we already have a significant full fibre footprint across the North West, Midlands and London, our build schedule continues at pace. Where our Faster Britain networks don’t yet reach, we can provide connectivity to businesses across the UK through our trusted operator network.
The speed of our delivery is how we make a difference to our partners’ businesses, by working together and bringing Gigabit-capable connectivity to the market quicker than the industry norm – helping our partners to sell more, quickly. We envisage a market where we will also be able to apply these principles to the Project Gigabit infrastructure delivered by other providers.