UK chancellor puts finger in air, promises 15 million full fibre connections by 2025

Goal to be achieved not with government cash, but 'market conditions'

The UK's chief purse-strings-puller Philip Hammond has pledged 15 million premises will receive full-fibre broadband by 2025, in an apparent bid to boost Britain's fortunes post-Brexit.

But rather than invest money in such a scheme, like other governments in Europe, the Chancellor of the Exchequer has devised something much, er, much better: "creating the conditions for the market to deliver".

In a speech at the Confederation of British Industry last night, Hammond said:

"If we are to achieve our ambition of a truly high-speed economy, and keep up with our competitors, then we need a step change in our approach.

"So I am now setting a new target to see full-fibre to the premises connections being available to 15 million premises, that’s the majority of homes and businesses, by 2025.

"This is ambitious.. and it will require industry to connect more than 2 million additional premises a year for the next seven years. We won’t do that by government diktat."

He said the Treasury "will use all the tools at the government’s disposal to ensure that target is met" and "we’ll go further, by committing to finish the job – and deliver a nationwide full-fibre to the premises network by 2033."

The Register asked the Treasury and the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sports for more information about what "market conditions" it plans to introduce, and if it has any investment and timeline plans for "finishing the job" by 2033 (assuming his government will still be around in 15 years).

Currently, just over one million premises in Britain receive full-fibre speeds, making it one of the lowest-ranking countries in Europe 1Gbps speed penetration.

Andrew Ferguson, editor of, said on paper the 15 million figure looked achievable without government involvement, as many operators have already announced full-fibre targets. For example, Openreach has committed to connect three million premises to full fibre by 2020, with the potential to extend that to 10 million homes by 2025.

Meanwhile, Vodafone inked a deal with CityFibre to connect up to five million premises over the next eight years; and TalkTalk has said it wants to connect three million homes.

"Many operators keep re-announcing their full-fibre plans, but what we don't know at the moment is how much overlap there's going to be," said Ferguson.

He noted the plans to hit the figure by creating the right market conditions will mean different things to different providers. "For CityFibre its about the country having less reliance on Openreach, whereas for BT its about having market certainty [and not changing Ofcom regulations]." ®

Similar topics

Narrower topics

Other stories you might like

  • FTC says Frontier lied about its internet speeds amid $8.5m settlement
    Telco 'ripped off customers by charging high-speed prices for slow service', says watchdog

    The FTC has settled a case in which Frontier Communications was accused of charging high prices for under-delivered internet connectivity.

    The US telecommunications giant has promised to be clearer with subscribers on connection speeds, and will cough up more than $8.5 million, or less than a day in annual profit, to end the matter.

    Frontier used to primarily pipe broadband over phone lines to people in rural areas, expanded to cities, and today supplies the usual fare to homes and businesses: fiber internet, TV, and phone services.

    Continue reading
  • Starlink's Portability mode lets you take your sat broadband dish anywhere*
    * Terms and so many conditions apply

    Starlink customers who've been itching to take their dish on the road can finally do so – for a price. 

    The Musk-owned satellite internet service provider quietly rolled out a feature this week called Portability which, for an additional $25 per month, will allow customers to take their service with them anywhere on the same continent – provided they can find a clear line-of-sight to the sky and the necessary power needed to keep the data flowing.

    That doesn't mean potential Starlink customers sign up for service in an area without a wait list and take their satellite to a more congested area. Sneaky, but you won't get away with it. If Starlink detects a dish isn't at its home address, there's no guarantee of service if there's not enough bandwidth to go around, or there's another outage.

    Continue reading
  • Timetable for industrial action ballot against BT imminent
    CWU deputy secretary demands better pay for staff amid cost-of-living crisis

    The Communication and Workers Union (CWU) will this week publish the timetable to run an industrial action ballot over the pay rise BT gave to members recently, with the telco's subsidiaries to vote separately.

    Earlier this month, BT paid its 58,000 frontline workers a flat rate increase of £1,500 ($1,930) for the year, upping it from the £1,200 ($1,545) initially offered. BT hadn't cleared this increase with the CWU, and the union branded the offer as unacceptable at a time when inflation in Britain is expected to soar by 10 percent this year.

    In a public town hall meeting last week, the CWU said it will take an "emergency motion" to the Annual Conference this week to "set out the exact ballot timetable," said Karen Rose, vice president at CWU.

    Continue reading

Biting the hand that feeds IT © 1998–2022