The New INCA and Point Topic survey finds industry has achieved a 50% growth from the previous year and expects the number to rise to 2.4 million in 2020
Compiled for INCA by Point Topic using data provided by independent network operators, the report – ‘Metrics for the UK independent network sector’ – shows strong growth in investment – up by £936m – and in network deployment by altnets. Rural fixed wireless connections remain stable.
There has been a significant push by the government in recent years to provide full-fibre for all, and this is reflected in the industry as it aims to reach 2.4 million premises with full-fibre at the end of 2020 and 15.7 million premises by 2025. Being able to achieve this is dependable on a number of factors listed in the report, including delivery times for services from Openreach or other operators, and getting wayleaves.
“The substantial increase from last year is very promising,” said Malcolm Corbett, CEO at INCA. “These impressive results are reflected in the scale of investment in the UK’s digital infrastructure. We calculate that a commitment of £6.6bn has been announced for the independent operators. Coronavirus has demonstrated clearly the reliance we all have on connectivity. We look forward to seeing government continuing to prioritise renewal of the UK’s digital infrastructure, both fixed-line and wireless.”
At the forefront of everybody’s minds is the Covid19 pandemic. As noted in the report, this is having a serious impact on the telecommunications sector along with the rest of society. However, the report notes that many of the operators’ other concerns are being addressed. Planning and street work delays and/or costs, which was last year’s top issue has moved down the list, suggesting that work done by Government and local authorities is starting to pay-off.
In its assessment of 2019, the report gathered evidence suggesting that the UK’s independent network operators passed 1.2 million homes with fixed superfast or ultrafast broadband. The majority of these using ultrafast Fibre-to-the-Premises or home (FTTP/H) and Fibre-to-the-Building (FTTB) technology. Fixed wireless networks can address up to 2.3m premises, though this is more challenging to accurately assess. The research shows that connections to WISPs remain stable at around 110,000
Independent full-fibre providers now have 366,000 live connections, up 23% since last year.
“The independent network operator sector has seen some fantastic growth from last year,” said Annelise Berendt, Principal Associate at Point Topic. “It is clear from the report that independent operators are playing a significant role in helping the UK government reach their full-fibre targets.”