BT, rivals, grilled over lack of network investment - Mobile World Live

BT, rivals, grilled over lack of network investment

13 DEC 2017

Top executives from the UK’s telecommunications sector were hauled in for a crunch meeting with regulators to explain a lack of industry investment in fibre, Financial Times reported.

Representatives from Openreach, BT, TalkTalk, Virgin Media, Vodafone UK, O2 UK and several smaller companies attended the meeting alongside UK culture secretary Karen Bradley and Ofcom CEO Sharon White.

The agenda reportedly centred on the slow rollout of “full fibre” which is only available in 3 per cent of homes in the country. This puts the UK well behind other major European nations.

Along with 5G, Ofcom identified full fibre as a key technology to ensure the UK does not fall further behind leading digital economies around the world.

However, both the regulator and government representatives have repeatedly voiced concerns on the pace of the country’s fibre rollout, leading to the launch of a government review into future mobile and fixed networks in late November.

Falling behind
In early December, White made a statement warning the UK would struggle to keep pace with rival countries without investment in next generation networks – both fixed and mobile.

“We cannot afford to stand still,” she said: “History tells us that, soon, superfast broadband will not be enough. Technological developments – from robotics and automation, to cybersecurity and connected devices, to those we cannot even conceive of today – will all demand faster, more secure, more reliable networks.”

“The UK is already playing catch-up and without more investment, we risk falling even further behind.”

The intense scrutiny from regulators and the government cranks up pressure on Openreach – the company charged with rolling out a wholesale fibre network – and other operators to increase the pace of deployment.

In October the head of Vodafone UK Nick Jeffrey said it was “lamentable” fibre penetration rates were so low and also criticised an ongoing delay in auctioning 5G spectrum.

Author

Chris Donkin

Chris joined the Mobile World Live team in November 2016 having previously worked at a number of UK media outlets including Trinity Mirror, The Press Association and UK telecoms publication Mobile News. After spending 10 years in journalism, he moved...

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