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The UK won’t have full fibre by 2025. What does that mean for you?

By Cable.co.uk | Friday, February 5th 2021

Back in 2019, Boris Johnson, now Primer Minister of the UK, promised that he’d deliver “full fibre broadband to every home in the land” by 2025. These words were part of his leadership campaign and were also included in the Conservative Party manifesto in the December 2019 general election. Well, it’s January 2021 and by the looks of it, the deadline won’t be met. But what does that mean for you? Is it really that important? Read on and we’ll explain a bit more.

Currently, according to data from Ofcom released in September 2020, 14% of the UK has full fibre (FTTP) coverage. This means that up to 4.2 million premises have access to ultrafast internet. However, 2% of the country – 590,000 premises – are still unable to get speeds of 10Mbps. On top of this, only 67% of the UK is covered by 4G.

In October 2020 UK think tank The Social Market Foundation published this report where they claimed that nationwide gigabit broadband coverage by 2025 is highly unlikely to be a reality. That is, unless the Government implements significant policy reform. But in a time when many people still don’t have access to broadband that allows them to do the basics, should the focus be on full fibre coverage? Or should the focus be on better service nationwide so people can work from home, home-school their kids as needed or just accessing the internet with a usable speed?

More than 888,000 children live in a household with only a mobile internet connection – as reported by Ofcom. That means almost 1 million children who are struggling with learning from home and don’t have access to the Internet most of their peers do. We already told you about the best internet providers and government help for home-schooling. But in most cases this may not be enough to close the gap.

Without proper access to broadband, those suffering from the ‘digital divide’ are more likely to have worse access to financial or public services, particularly in remote areas. This is more acute when we discuss online learning and home-schooling. In some way, good universal broadband is important because if you don’t have a good enough access to the internet you’re being denied equal access to knowledge and information.

The idea that everyone in the UK needs 1Gbps broadband by 2025 or even later is a bad faith argument. The reality is there are currently no applications for which 1,000Mbps is required. When it comes to improving Britain’s broadband we must ensure those that are unable to access fast-enough broadband are able to do so first.

However, with broadband networks run by private companies, profit comes before conscience, and there is more money to be had rolling out gigabit broadband to areas where speeds already fast enough than there is laying new infrastructure to towns and villages with poor connectivity.

This is why the government has to be involved, not only in setting targets and ensuring they are met, but also in managing the rollout in such a way as to reach the neediest first.

Dan Howdle, Cable.co.uk

It would be wonderful if the whole country had access to full fibre and gigabit broadband. If that was a reality we all would have enough bandwidth for literally anything – banking, streaming, gaming, shopping, zooming. But given that lockdown has exposed more than ever the ‘digital divide’ between those who have good enough broadband and those who don’t, shouldn’t we be focusing on that? The impact would be bigger because not everybody needs fibre, but good access to the Internet should be universal for equal opportunities.

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