Proposals set out by the Department for Digital, Culture, Media & Sport recommend legislation to guarantee new homes are fitted with full-fibre broadband.
It comes amid ongoing concerns that Scotland is lagging behind England when it comes to superfast broadband speeds. Westminster’s Scottish Affairs committee this week called on the UK and Scottish Governments to work together following political squabbling over the roll-out of broadband north of the Border.
Full-fibre connections are faster, more reliable and cheaper to run than traditional copper-based networks. They only stand at 4 per cent across the UK, lagging behind other European countries, including Spain at 71 per cent and Portugal at 89 per cent.
The government aims to give the majority of the UK access to 5G and to connect 15 million premises to full-fibre broadband by 2025. It also said an increase in spectrum should help boost innovative 5G services.
Culture Secretary Jeremy Wright said: “We want everyone in the UK to benefit from world-class connectivity no matter where they live, work or travel.
“This radical new blueprint for the future of telecommunications in this country will increase competition and investment in full-fibre broadband, create more commercial opportunities and make it easier and cheaper to roll out infrastructure for 5G.”
Without change it is estimated full-fibre broadband networks will only reach three-quarters of the country, and would take more than 20 years to do so.
The Government hopes that changes to regulation and an industry-led switch over from copper to full-fibre co-ordinated with Ofcom will help drive private investment and minimise the cost.
Hard-to-reach rural areas would be prioritised for fixed broadband and 5G mobile connections with around £200 million within the existing superfast broadband programme. CityFibre, one of the UK’s alternative fibre networks, welcomed the move but said consumers should not have to foot the bill.
“The government decided once and for all to leave copper behind and commit the UK to a full-fibre future, making clear that a new generation of infrastructure builders is the vehicle for delivering its bold ambition,” CityFibre’s director of strategy Mark Collins said.