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Comms Regulator Sets Out Stall for UK Fibre Optic Broadband

News, 27 September 2007


LONDON: If the future of media is online; and the future of online is broadband; and the future of broadband is fibre-optic - 'no worries," as they say Down Under. Britain's communications regulator is rarin' to go!

Says Ed Richards, Ofcom's ceo from Smallville: "Next Generation Access offers tremendous new opportunities for UK business and consumers, and its potential impact on the economy is very significant.

"Investment in NGA will represent a substantial commercial risk and the market should decide where and when it will be made. We want to ensure there are no barriers to investment and provide a clear regulatory environment which will help encourage investment.

"But we also want to ensure that the benefits of competition which consumers have enjoyed with current generation broadband can also be achieved as we move to higher speed NGA."

Broadband is now a mass-market service with ...

  • Over 99% of the geographic UK connected to a broadband enabled exchange;

  • Over half of UK households connected to broadband;

  • Almost three quarters with a choice of at least two broadband (ADSL and/or cable) network providers;

  • An average headline speed that has doubled in a year to reach 4.6mb/s;

  • Prices down by 9% over the last twelve months.
However, the development and consumption of high speed services means that current generation networks will at some point be unable to deliver the very high speed service demanded by customers.

The market and infrastructure conditions in the UK are very different to those countries where investment in fibre has already been strong.

In part, this is due to the UK's relatively mature pay TV market; the high speeds of current broadband enabled by shorter distances from exchanges; and the comparatively high population densities in countries where fibre is advancing fastest.

With these facts in mind, Ofcom is now consulting all interested parties, including the public, as to the future of the market for high-speed web access.

Says Richards: "Investment in NGA will represent a substantial commercial risk and the market should decide where and when it will be made. We want to ensure there are no barriers to investment and provide a clear regulatory environment which will help encourage investment.

"But we also want to ensure that the benefits of competition which consumers have enjoyed with current generation broadband can also be achieved as we move to higher speed NGA."

The consultation closes on 5 December 2007, further details of which can be accessed by clicking here.

Data sourced from Ofcom (UK); additional content by WARC staff