£28.8 billion bill to fibre every home in UK
By Barry Collins
Posted on 8 Sep 2008 at 15:34
It would cost ï28.8bn to bring "superfast" fibre broadband to every home in the UK, according to a new report from the Government's broadband advisors.
The Broadband Stakeholder Group - which counts BT, Virgin Media and many other telcos and ISPs among its members - puts a firm figure on the cost of nationwide fibre rollout for the first time.
It claims merely bringing fibre-to-the-cabinet (FTTC) nationwide would cost £5.1bn, whereas the full-scale deployment of the far superior fibre-to-the-home (FTTH) would cost nearly six times as much at £28.8bn.
The group claims the biggest cost in a full FTTH rollout - which BT says could offer speeds of up to 100Mb/sec - is the cost of digging up roads or laying fibre through existing ducts.
BT has already pledged to spend £1.5 billion on a fibre rollout, which will largely consist of FTTC.
The Broadband Stakeholder Group says this report reveals the gap in spending required to bring the whole country up to speed.
"The scale of the costs looks daunting but the report does shed light on how some of these costs can be reduced and what the likely extent of commercial rollout will be," says Anthony Walker, the Group's chairman. It should focus minds of commercial players, policy makers and regulators on the potential solutions to these challenges."
The report also appears to dent the hopes of the Ofcom Consumer Panel, which last week called for rural areas to be the first in the queue for fibre.
It states that the costs of deploying in "more sparsely populated areas" will be "significantly higher", claiming that the industry alone could probably only afford to fibre two-thirds of the UK population.
"If rural areas are to be served in a reasonable timeframe, thinking needs to start now about creative solutions for making them more attractive to investment," adds Walker.
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