commits to rip-and-replacing Blighty's wheezing internet pipes

Full-fibre diet for all by the year 2033, vows Ministry of Fun

The Ministry of Fun* is wheeling out a new national telecoms strategy (PDF) that aims to slather the UK in healthy full-fat broadband fibre by 2033.

Under the plans, the whole of Blighty's copper network will be ripped out and replaced by fibre-optic cables to enhance broadband speeds, as was suggested by a recent survey.

New-build homes would be first in line for fibre to the premises (FTTP), while rural areas will also get a nudge further up the queue. The plan is for 15 million premises to have FTTP by 2025, with every home and business on a healthy fibre diet in two decades.

Most domestic phone lines in the UK are copper from the premises to the nearest street cabinet, with fibre being used as backhaul from that point into the provider's network. Copper is a bottleneck in terms of broadband speeds; fibre offers far superior quality.

A host of industry talking heads and trade bodies welcomed the strategy, praising its focus on fatter pipes and preparation for 5G rollouts. BT's network infrastructure biz Openreach was predictably fast off the blocks, not missing a chance to plug itself as "the dependable partner for government" – presumably as thanks for BT dodging yet another opportunity to have Openreach surgically severed and set up as a standalone company.

Road Closed sign

Infrastructure wonks: Tear up Britain's copper phone networks by 2025


An Openreach spokesman said in a canned statement: "We're encouraged by the government's plan to promote competition, tackle red tape and bust the barriers to investment. As the national provider, we're ambitious and want to build full-fibre broadband to 10 million premises and beyond – so it's vital that this becomes an attractive investment without creating digital inequality or a lack of choice for consumers and businesses across the country."

The culture minister, Jeremy Wright, opined: "This radical new blueprint for the future of telecommunications in this country will increase competition and investment in full-fibre broadband, create more commercial opportunities and make it easier and cheaper to roll out infrastructure for 5G."

Similarly, the Independent Networks Cooperative Association praised moves that would "provide better access to existing passive infrastructure from Openreach and other utilities". ®


* Our affectionate nickname for the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport – the "fun" stuff.

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