Competitive fiber broadband access operator Hyperoptic has got the hump over the UK government's response to a European Commission consultation on broadband services, which noted that the broadband market doesn't need fiber-to-the-premises (FTTP) deployments to meet Britain's requirements beyond 2020. (See Hyperoptic Takes Gigabit to Glasgow.)
The EC has been seeking feedback on the broadband speeds and quality needed by 2020 across the region and, having canvassed the market, the UK government has issued a statement saying that while some market players stressed the need for fiber-to-the-premises, there was no consensus on the matter, and that G.fast (for copper access) and cable broadband (DOCSIS 3.0/3.1) will play a role in delivering "ultrafast services."
Hyperoptic , which is investing in fiber broadband infrastructure to multi-dwelling buildings, is exasperated by that response. "It is nonsensical that the UK Government has stated it believes that there is no consensus on extending Fibre-to-the-Premises (FTTP) services to facilitate and enable the UK's ever-increasing broadband demands. With the UK's broadband data consumption doubling year on year, the need for a both faster and more reliable broadband delivery technology is a no-brainer," says Hyperoptic's VP of products, Steve Holford, in a statement sent to the media. The statement adds that the current fiber-to-the-cabinet (FTTC) infrastructure that dominates the UK broadband market is "incredibly limiting in a number of respects … from significantly slower upload speeds, to peak-time slowdowns and distance attenuation," and that the G.fast technology to be rolled out by BT Group plc (NYSE: BT; London: BTA) will be "subject to a number of similar issues." (See Long-Range, High-Speed Gfast Is Coming – BT.)
The truth of the matter, though, is that while BT sticks with its G.fast investment plans that rely on the copper access lines already in place around the UK, there will be no meaningful consensus on a definitive need for FTTP to meet public demand. And no matter how much they bang the fiber drum, competitive operators such as Hyperoptic, Gigaclear and CityFibre will never have the resources or influence that the national incumbent can wield. (See CityFibre Takes On BT With $136M KCOM Acquisition, UK Needs Fiber Infrastructure Rivalry – CityFibre and UK's Gigaclear Raises $46M for Rural Gigabit.)
As Europe attempts (often feebly) to become a digital rival to Asia and North America and develop very high-speed and even gigabit broadband services, the tension around FTTP investments will intensify: As we have seen this week in Germany, the UK isn't the only market where the incumbent is seeking to sweat its copper network assets. (See Vodafone Calls for Broadband Regulation Shake-Up in Germany.)
In time, though, fiber will win the day and those companies getting fiber into homes and businesses now will be in a good position in five or ten years' time -- if they can last that long.
— Ray Le Maistre, , Editor-in-Chief, Light Reading