British infrastructure company Openreach, a wholly owned and independently governed division of the BT Group, has called for ‘greater industry and political collaboration’ to build a large-scale full fibre broadband network. To that end the company has launched a consultation with communications providers (CPs), while also engaging with both the government and local telecoms regulator Ofcom, with a view to identifying whether there is widespread demand for a large-scale fibre-to-the-premises (FTTP) network. In a press release Openreach also said it will look to ‘assess the likely benefits across industry of such a major infrastructure deployment and seek support for the crucial enablers needed to make a commercial investment case viable’.
In terms of the necessary elements that Openreach believes are necessary to unlock a larger scale FTTP deployment, it said these included: greater collaboration, including new investment, risk and cost sharing models; an agreement on how mass migration of customers onto the new platform might be achieved; the reduction of logistical barriers, like improved planning and traffic management processes; an agreement on the right way to spread the costs of a FTTP investment; and a legal and regulatory environment which encourages investment.
Commenting on the matter, Openreach chief executive Clive Selley said: ‘By using new techniques, we recently halved the cost of delivering ‘full fibre’ infrastructure, but building a large-scale network is still a huge commercial, technical and logistical challenge that’s going to need real ingenuity, flexibility and coordination across government and industry … With the right conditions we believe we could make FTTP available to as many as ten million homes and businesses by the mid-2020s, but we need to understand if there’s sufficient demand to justify the rollout, and support for the enablers needed to build a viable business case. That includes removing barriers to investment and incentivising those, like Openreach, who are prepared to take a commercial risk.’