The Parliamentary Culture, Media & Sport Committee sought INCA's input to their inquiry. This was submitted 19 June 20. Here is the summary. The full response can be downloaded below.
The Committee's questions were:
- What is the impact of COVID-19 on the roll-out of full-fibre and 5G infrastructure in both the short and medium-to-long term, including any differences in different parts of the UK
- How realistic is the Government’s ambition of nationwide gigabit-capable broadband by 2025, and what measures (regulatory, financial, technical, other) will be needed to achieve it?
- What are the challenges to the roll-out of 5G and gigabit-capable networks? To what extent do existing legislative, regulatory and spending plans address them?
- What needs to happen to ensure the Government’s ‘outside in’ approach successfully addresses the digital divide while also delivering value for money?
- What does take-up of broadband and mobile services indicate about consumer and business attitudes to digital connectivity? What needs to be learnt from this for the roll-out of, and switchover to, gigabit-capable networks?
- What will be the impact on individuals and communities whose broadband and mobile connectivity fails to keep pace with the rest of the country over the next 10 years? What is the link with other DCMS policy concerns, such as changing patterns in the consumption of digital media?
- How effectively do the different stakeholders (UK and devolved governments, local authorities, Ofcom, industry) work together in both the mobile and broadband sectors? How might these relationships be improved to support gigabit-capable roll-out?
You can download INCA's full Response below. The conclusions were:
The independent sector has the will, capability and investment in place to meet the challenging timetable. To achieve this, the industry requires a supportive regulatory environment and a concerted and active effort from Government to reduce barriers.
In summary, for the 2025 ambition to be met INCA recommends
- Alignment between Government and Ofcom on how a competitive market can work to successfully deliver investment and network build.
- Wider understanding and acceptance of the role, capacity and viability of the independent sector, reflected in policy and regulatory decisions.
- Widen the scope of legislative measures to enable greater application of wayleaves access to rural scenarios.
- Encourage greater coherence and reduce administrative burdens around planning and streetworks.
- Continued work between industry, Ofcom and Openreach to improve access to their PIA product.
- Consider the impact of new immigration rules on a sector reliant on specialised technical and engineering skills often recruited from within the EEA.
- Extend the current 100% business rates relief on new fibre beyond 2022.
- Continued oversight of the BDUK Outside In programme to ensure it is transparent and competitive for a wide range of operators.
- Proper engagement with local authorities, taking account of their local expertise when designing the BDUK programme.
- Coordinated and concerted leadership from DCMS across Government departments and local authorities.
INCA welcomes future input from Members in this all-important area. The industry, policy and regulatory environment are changing significantly and it is vital we are all prepared for the opportunities and threats. If you do not already have a full-time public affairs resource, you will find INCA's Policy & Regulatory Service useful.