Ofcom Unveils Plan for UK’s Full Fibre Future

14 October 2021 Broadband

Full Fibre Broadband Rollout Plan

In many of our guides, we advise you to check your speed before choosing your broadband package. We do this to make sure the broadband you’ve selected works to its full potential. Now you may be thinking “Hold up Broadband Freedom – I thought your services are up to scratch?”

*Spoiler alert*

They are! But what’s the point of having fast, flexible and cheap broadband in an area that simply hasn’t got the infrastructure to deliver it? We at Broadband Freedom think it’s unfair that the majority of people don’t have access to full-fibre broadband. But what if we told you times are a-changing for the UK?

From the biggest cities, through middling towns, right out to the smallest villages, all will be able to enjoy speedy full-fibre broadband as the UK’s digital infrastructure is set for a complete transformation.

Last year, Ofcom proposed a series of new flexible regulations that would set up the UK for a full-fibre future. Ofcom stated that their plans for the full-fibre rollout will vary for different parts of the country and that the government will contribute another £5 billion from the public fund…just as an extra precaution to prevent leaving anyone behind.  

Ofcom’s Full Fibre Four-Point Plan

Four key principles guiding the regulations will ensure investments in the new network remain competitive. These are:

1)      Setting wholesale prices that encourage competition from other networks and investment by Openreach.

2)      Giving people a choice to access more affordable broadband will protect customers and drive competition.

3)      Bringing people out in the sticks up to speed with the fastest broadband.

4)      Progressively remove regulations on the copper network as full fibre is integrated into the digital infrastructure, to save Openreach unnecessary costs of running two networks at the same time.

Dame Melanie Dawes, Ofcom Chief Executive said “Now it’s time to ramp up the rollout of better broadband across the UK. We’re playing our part – setting the right conditions for companies to step up and invest in the country’s full-fibre future. This is a once-in-a-century chance to help make the UK a world-leading digital economy.”

How exactly Ofcom plan to deliver these results, whilst encouraging competition and protecting customers, was explained in an update on their website. With a consultation that was done and dusted back in April 2020, and the endeavour being given the green light earlier this year, the 2020s has been dubbed the decade of full fibre for the UK.

Ofcom’s Plan for Wholesale Price Regulation

Over the years Ofcom has gradually decreased the price of Openreach’s entry-level charges. This means telecom providers pay less to host their broadband services on Ofcom’s superfast copper network.

However, the fastest fibre services available will not be subject to the new pricing regulations. This is due to people having an alternative in the entry-level service. But Openreach can still charge a little bit extra on regulated products since they will be delivered on a much faster and reliable full-fibre network.

Ofcom has allowed this margin so that companies like BT and its competitors receive a fair return, thus, encouraging investment into the new network and promoting fair competition.

This sounds all very well and good for the big network players and altnets to thrive. It’ll benefit everyone in the long run. But what’s the cost for customers? After all, with faster and more reliable broadband, comes bigger bills at the end of the month. So, what guarantees do customers have that will protect them from extortionate price hikes?

Ofcom’s “Fairness to Customers” Plan

Ofcom has promised to treat all UK communications customers fairly. Ways in which Ofcom want to guarantee fairness to customers are as follows: providing helpful information so customers can make informed choices, being able to easily switch between different broadband providers, and getting good value for money with their choice of broadband, phone, and TV services.

To be honest, we’re chuffed that Ofcom plans to do more to protect you. More and more companies are being challenged to take more action, to make sure they treat their customers fairly and operate honestly in the market. That’s something Broadband Freedom can get behind!

Ofcom’s Plans for Rural Areas

The Government has £5 billion of public funds set aside to fund Project Gigabit. Ofcom reports that some rural communities who have successfully petitioned the Government for gigabit vouchers face disruptions from Openreach as they expand their rural plans.

On the surface this may seem like Openreach is monopolizing rural areas, when in reality they are working to a categorised plan that prioritises different areas of the country. So, as it happens, the Government may repeal the vouchers from rural communities that will be brought up to speed by Openreach. The Government can then reinvest the funds from these vouchers along with funds from Project Gigabit.

Around 20% of rural communities, especially those further afield from bigger urban areas, will face disproportionate deployment of the full-fibre network. Openreach has also claimed that the cost of the final 10% of these properties will skyrocket as a result. New innovations may mitigate high prices for the Government.

Ofcom’s Plan to Remove Copper Network Regulations

During a time of great technical advances for the UK’s telecommunications industry, questions have emerged over the more traditional and older methods we communicate with one another. Some parts of the UK’s copper telephone network were installed over 100 years ago!

Ofcom has introduced flexible regulations so that Openreach and other network builders can remove the old copper network as the new one is built. The removal of the older network will save money in the long run as it won’t require maintenance anymore. Whether this will have an impact on prices for faster broadband remains to be seen…Ofcom has vowed to protect vulnerable customers during the transition period, however.  

What Are Your Plans For A Full Fibre Future?

Have we ever told you how Broadband Freedom looks after our customers? We bring value to our customers through our reliable, flexible and affordable Broadband packages. Be sure to check out our Guide to help you every step of the way to Broadband Freedom.

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