50% of UK homes passed by March – Ofcom

Created February 17, 2023
News and Business

According to the UK telecoms regulator Ofcom, full-fibre internet will reach half of UK homes next month, and will reach more than 80% within the next two years, as construction of the country’s new broadband backbone continues. Five years ago, only 6% of UK homes could get full fibre but, says Ofcom, thanks to competition and investment from network builders, that had reached 42% by September 2022.

Lindsey Fussell, Ofcom’s Group Director, Network and Communications said in a statement, “Based on our current data, Ofcom now expects the 50% threshold to be passed in March, There’s still a lot of work to do to bring faster connections to all parts of the country, but progress in recent years has been rapid. The numbers speak for themselves. These challenger firms are doubling their collective footprint each year, and together they expect to reach 11.5 million homes by the end of this year. Investment in independent broadband builders is strong, and expected to reach £17 billion by 2025.”

Ofcom says it has set rules for the wholesale broadband market designed to boost competition, and ensure a level playing field among operators like Openreach, Virgin Media and a range of smaller, ‘alternative’ network providers, which provide a vital part of Ofcom’s strategy for better broadband.

Indeed, maintaining a competitive market is vital to Ofcom’s strategy. It says healthy, effective competition also means keeping a close eye on the biggest network firm, Openreach, to ensure it doesn’t use its market position to distort competition in the market. At the moment, the mregulator is examining a new pricing plan from Openreach, and it has invited views from across industry on this, with a decision expected by the end of March. In addition, Ofcom is gathering information on whether regular pricing changes, such as those announced by Openreach this year, are making it harder for other firms to compete fairly, and in June, it will publish a report on whether Openreach is sticking to the rules.

Fussell ended the statement with a warning, saying, “If we see evidence of any company acting in a way that distorts or prevents competition, we won’t hesitate to step in. Competition is the force that is driving better broadband for everyone. By promoting it, and keeping it fair and effective, we can help secure the UK’s digital future.”

For more information, visit www.ofcom.org.uk


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.