The government intends to make full fibre (fibre broadband running direct to the house or office premises) connections available to everyone in the UK by 2033.
The National Infrastructure Assessment 2018 report – which deals with everything from roads to recycling and digital infrastructure development – set what is doubtlessly a very soft deadline, but it’s interesting to see the date nonetheless.
The report states that the government is to formulate a ‘national broadband plan’ by the spring of next year, towards the end of delivering full fibre connections to the entire country, “including those in rural areas”.
So, the idea is that in 15 years’ time, nobody will be left behind when it comes to having a full fibre hook-up to the internet.
The plan “should ensure that the technology is available to 15 million homes and businesses by 2025, 25 million by 2030, and all homes and businesses by 2033”.
That matches up with Chancellor of the Exchequer Philip Hammond’s previously mentioned target of reaching 15 million premises by 2025. Even Hammond himself admitted that was an ambitious target, and a further eight years to reach the entire country is probably even more so.
In other words, there is an obvious danger that this is mere political noise, but we can at least keep our fingers crossed that it means the development of fibre is going to be pushed more strongly in the UK.
At the moment, full fibre connections are thin on the ground, and when it comes to getting faster connections out there, BT is focusing more on G.fast technology, which is essentially supercharged fibre-to-the-cabinet (it still uses the phone line for the last length of the connection, but speeds up this part of the equation).
BT is planning to deliver what it calls ‘ultrafast’ broadband to 13 million properties by the end of the decade, although only 3 million of these will benefit from full fibre – the rest will be treading the G.fast path.
Still, clearly any progress is welcome, particularly as the UK recently slid down the global broadband rankings according to Cable.co.uk, dropping four places to languish at number 35.