The UK government unveiled wide-ranging proposals designed to deliver full fibre connectivity by 2033, alongside moves to boost 5G availability in the country.
As part of its Future Telecoms Infrastruture Review, the Department for Digital, Culture, Media & Sport outlined a number of suggestions including changes to planning and building rules and increased funding to boost coverage in rural areas.
The manifesto said that fibre and 5G are complementary technologies, with 5G building on “dense fibre networks” and in some areas providing a more cost-effective way of delivering high-speed connectivity.
5G, it said, will provide significant vertical market opportunities for current operators and also offer an opening for new entrants – though it suggested these new players would be infrastructure and services companies rather than consumer-facing network operators.
It added: “National mobile networks could be supplemented by neutral host infrastructure to address the cost and practical challenges of, for example, small cell deployment in high demand areas, or to expand rural coverage.”
To encourage speedy 5G developments, the department highlighted four priority areas: easing site access legislation; supporting new infrastructure models to drive network densification and extension; spending the £200 million 5G fund to support target use case development; and releasing more 5G spectrum – while also considering the possibility of shared, flexible spectrum models.
Providing full fibre will require between £3 billion and £5 billion in new public funding, it added, in addition to investments from private companies. The UK currently has 4 per cent full fibre connectivity, according to government figures, compared with 28 per cent in France, 71 per cent in Spain and 89 per cent in Portugal.
Recommendations requiring changes to the law are subject to consultations, which are set to be published shortly.