Altnet operators pass 25% of UK with full-fibre broadband

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UK alternative network operator (altnet) representative body, INCA has released its latest Metrics for the UK independent network sector report.

Amongst its findings, the report detailed that private investment has continued to flow into the independent network sector over the past year, despite the challenging economic conditions and increasing interest rates. What more, it forecast an increase in planned investment to 2030 to £24bn. 

The report reveals altnet operators had passed 8.2 million premises with fibre by the end of 2022. This is approximately 25% of UK premises, 2.3 million of which were in harder to reach areas, described by regulator, Ofcom as Area 3. INCA believes this evidence should convince the regulator to include an impact analysis of the UK’s harder to reach areas,, in its final decision on Openreach’s Equinox 2 pricing proposal, as INCA Chair Tim Stranack explains:  “Recent comments by the BT Group CEO indicate that the incumbent operator is feeling the challenge from independent providers. It’s vital that the regulator provides an environment in which infrastructure competition can flourish in order to make full fibre available to more UK consumers and also deliver upon the strategic priorities set by government to Ofcom.”

INCA CEO Malcolm Corbett adds: “As this year’s survey results clearly show, Ofcom must assess the potential impact of Equinox 2 on Area 3. Equinox 2 is a live and pressing concern. It has the potential to unfairly foreclose the wholesale market, including in areas where Ofcom mistakenly thought only Openreach might get to, but where it is abundantly clear that altnets are investing significantly and where they are already making full fibre broadband services available to millions of people. Ofcom must not put this investment at risk and jeopardise the digital transformation of small towns and rural areas in the UK.” 

Other findings in the report include the news that there are 1.5 million live connections (48% growth year-on-year) to independent fixed networks provided by full fibre gigabit capable connections.  In addition, investment and expenditure in the independent network sector continued throughout 2022 with an estimated additional £6bn having been committed to network expansions and operations during the year. Estimated planned capex spend by altnets until the end of 2030 is predicted at more than £24.2bn, which INCA says is higher than that of BT Group’s (Openreach) £15bn and Nexfibre’s (a joint venture between Liberty Global, Telefónica and InfraVia Capital Partners) £4.5bn combined.

Richard Thorpe, chief delivery officer at CityFibre

15 August 2022

Broadway Partners was founded in 2016 with the aim of bringing full-fibre network access to communities across Scotland and Wales (credit: Broadway Partners)

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Matt Baker, Head of Wholesale at FullFibre and Lee Murphy, CEO at Factco

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