INCA Conference to ‘shed light’ on UK Government’s fibre policy

Created October 8, 2019
News and Business

The Independent Networks Co-operative Association’s (INCA) Annual Conference promises to shed light on government fibre policy, says INCA CEO Malcolm Corbett, following the government’s pledge to invest five billion pounds towards rural gigabit broadband. The announcement, which was made by the Chancellor of the Exchequer at the end of September, outlined the Government’s plans for its new multi-billion-pound investment, which aims to deliver gigabit broadband across the whole of the UK.

The INCA Annual Conference – which will take place on the 16th and 17th October at the Mercure Manchester Piccadilly Hotel – aims to shed light on the UK Government’s latest broadband infrastructure plans. With speakers from both the government and private sector, the Conference will feature discussions aimed at making sense of the #TheRoadAhead for the UK’s fibre infrastructure development.

James Heath, Director of Digital Infrastructure at the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS), speaking on day two of the conference, will provide an update on the government’s latest policy and funding position. The talk will be immediately followed by a reaction and debate with leaders of the sector, including major operators Openreach and Virgin Media, as well independent operators.

“At what could be a crucial turning point for the future of the UK’s broadband landscape, talking points and questions continue to add-up across the industry following the latest government announcement. A forum to discuss what this means for fibre policy as a whole is a necessity for the industry,” said Corbett.

“To add the uncertainty, a general election has the potential to completely reshape government policy on full-fibre targets and funding. At the INCA Conference, we aim to provide a platform to navigate the complexities and uncertainties of the country’s fibre future and explore the best practices to ensure a robust digital infrastructure is achieved,” said Corbett.

Some providers are also concerned about the lack of detail in the government’s announcement. Evan Wienburg, CEO of rural infrastructure provider Truespeed told Optical Connections, “At the Conservative Party Conference, Chancellor Sajid Javid talked about kick-starting an infrastructure revolution and announced an extra £5 billion for accelerating gigabit broadband deployments in the hardest to reach rural areas. Of course we welcome this public investment in the UK’s critical digital infrastructure. But the devil is in the detail: we need to understand just where and how the £5 billion is going to be spent. We’re hoping it’s going to support a wide range of mechanisms and processes to support what this country needs. The initiative must protect the independent providers that are working to connect previously ignored areas – and must not encourage wasteful overbuilding. We urge the government to move quickly to avoid the UK slipping even further behind other Western European nations in gigabit broadband roll-outs.”

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This article was written
by Peter Dykes

Peter Dykes is a independent telecoms and technology journalist who has over that last 30 years written for a wide range of B2B publications and companies. A former BT engineer, he specialises in networks and associated support systems. He is currently Editor of Optical Connections.