UK Reveals Plans for 5G and Full Fiber Broadband for All Citizens by 2033

So far, the UK has been lagging far behind European nations in broadband deployment with only 4% of its household having full fiber connections.

The United Kingdom government announced this week ambitious goals to forge a full fiber broadband and 5G future for all its citizens. The new approach was released by the Department for Digital, Culture, Media & Sport along with a policy paper entitled The Future Telecoms Infrastructure Review (FTIR) outlining the government’s modern Industrial Strategy.

World-class connectivity for all

"We want everyone in the UK to benefit from world-class connectivity no matter where they live, work or travel."

"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," said DCMS Secretary of State Jeremy Wright in a statement.

More specifically the government hopes to bring 5G technology to the majority of the population, full fiber broadband to 15 million premises by 2025 and full fiber broadband coverage across all of the UK by 2033. The policies in FTIR target the introduction of investments in installing fiber in rural areas, regulations making fiber installations mandatory for new developments and infrastructure modifications for utilities friendly to the installation of the new networks.

A lagging broadband deployment

According to government statistics, the UK’s broadband deployment, at just 4% full fiber connections for households, lags far behind many other European countries. Spain boasts 71% of homes with full fiber and Portugal counts 89%.

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To remedy this situation the government have revealed an “outside-in” strategy that will support non-commercially viable areas that are not reached by network competition. £200 million from the Superfast broadband program’s budget have already been allocated to this mission.

The FTIR also made recommendations involving the UK's communications regulator Ofcom. The government-approved body will coordinate an industry-led switchover from copper to full fiber and reform regulations to allow unrestricted access to Openreach ducts and poles for residential and business uses.

"We welcome the Government’s review, and share its ambition for full-fibre and 5G networks to be rolled out right across the UK. The Government and Ofcom are working together, and with industry, to help ensure people and businesses get the broadband and mobile they need for the 21st century," said Ofcom Chief Executive Sharon White.

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Ofcom dedicated a page to explaining the benefits of full fiber. Amongst the many advantages listed are faster speeds (up to a gigabit per second more), improved reliability and fewer complications during times of increased usage.

It is estimated that the total cost of the government's broadband strategy will be an exorbitant £30bn. However, the plans are seen as vital to keeping the country globally competitive in an increasing digital world. 

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