A new report says that the government is likely to miss its goal of providing fibre broadband to every home by 2025.
The report says that several issues, which include pricing and the logistics of reaching remote areas, need to be addressed in order for the goal to be reached in time.
Boris Johnson’s election manifesto promised to remedy the UK’s sluggish uptake of gigabit speed broadband.
The shift towards home-working as a result of the pandemic has added impetus to reach the 2025 goal as the demand for reliable high-speed internet connections increases.
Up to 80% of homes in developed countries have access to full-fibre broadband. Access to full-fibre broadband in the UK currently stands at around 14%.
The new report, produced by the Social Market Foundation (SMF) thinktank, warns that swift action is needed from the government in order to hit the 2025 target.
“Delivering the rollout of full-fibre broadband fairly and quickly is hugely important for the UK economy, and all the more so because of pandemic restrictions that have left so many of us working and socialising online,” said research director at SMF, Scott Corfe. “The 2025 target is extremely ambitious and the UK still has a mountain to climb to reach it. Getting there will require some radical changes.”
The report suggests that the government can help increase demand in regions that broadband companies deem to be uneconomical, by committing to purchase full-fibre connections in public sector buildings, such as schools and hospitals.
The report also raises concerns over uptake of the new technology, fearing that cost to consumers would make them less likely to move over.
BT-owned Openreach currently owns and runs most of the country’s broadband network. Ofcom, the telecoms regulator, has allowed Openreach to raise the wholesale prices it charges companies who sell broadband deals - a cost that is likely to be passed down the line to consumers.
“We welcome the government’s ambition for gigabit connectivity for everybody by 2025, but this is in serious danger of being missed without swift action,” said TalkTalk’s chief executive, Tristia Harrison. “Investment into Britain’s full-fibre rollout is critical both to help the country to build back better and also to support the government’s levelling up agenda. However, people cannot be forced to pay higher prices just to increase the profits for builders.”
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