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Policy

Recent INCA policy work.

image of a map showing clusters and hub locations in North Wales

As UK Government plans to step up fibre deployment targets, INCA has released a new report calling for properties without superfast broadband to be first in line for upgrades, despite additional time and complexity of deployments.

Properties with the greatest need – rather than those which are easy to reach – should be prioritised for full fibre rollouts, according to a new report from GreySky Consulting for INCA.

A major change to the broadband industry affecting all network operators is coming and coming fast. Based on the new EU Electronic Communications Code – EECC – Ofcom is mandating a new method for consumers to be able to switch their broadband connection. This needs to be in place in just a few months, by 21st December 2020.

The new method will be a new Gaining Provider-led switching process where the Customer is moving between retailers whether they use the same or different access infrastructures (e.g. Openreach to another wholesale platform & vice versa). It even applies to non-fibre or copper infrastructure such as FWA.

INCA has submitted a detailed response to the Ofcom consultation Promoting competition and investment in fibre networks and their Initial proposals.

Essentially the points we make are:

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New INCA and Point Topic survey finds industry expects this to rise – but INCA CEO says there is still more to be done to meet Government targets

A new report has today revealed that the UK’s independent network providers increased full-fibre coverage by 30% in 2018, reaching almost 1.3 million premises. Compiled for INCA by Point Topic, using data from independent network operators, the report – ‘Metrics for the UK independent network sector’ – puts the total number of premises passed or addressed by altnets at nearly 3.32 million premises. This includes more than two million premises which are estimated to be covered by Fixed Wireless Access (FWA).

Ofcom have published a consultation on the approach to remedies in the broadband market to promote competition and investment in fibre networks. This follows consultations on defining geographic markets at the end of 2018. The consultation reasserts Ofcom’s commitment that “Competition is the best means to ensure continued investment in building and maintaining high quality, future-proofed telecoms networks.”

The consultation needs full discussion by INCA members since there are important elements that may affect competitive investment.

Despite the Brexit uncertainty, this is an important Ofcom/BEREC (Body of European Regulators for Electronic Communications) consultation for INCA Members (network operators and vendors) involved in Very High Capacity Networks (VHCNs). Promoting access to and take-up of VHCNs is one of the main goals of the EECC (European Electronic Communications Code). Ofcom are working on their input to the BEREC guidelines which will, along with the EECC itself, be transposed into the UK Communications Act.

VHCNs are considered to be either wholly fibre or offering similar performance if wireless or coax so this definition will be important to all INCA Members.

Ofcom Annual Plan

Ofcom has published its draft annual plan for consultation, for the next financial year. Responses to the consultation close on 8th February and the final plan will be published in March. The plan outlines Ofcom’s priority areas for 2019/20, including:

The Independent Networks Cooperative Association has today offered support for the Government’s Future Telecoms Infrastructure Review (FTIR) and welcomed the emphasis placed on full-fibre, 5G and the role alternative network operators (altnets) play.

Designed to transform the UK telecoms industry, the FTIR aims to open up access to world-class connectivity, regardless of where users are geographically located. It is hoped that this move will ignite new channels of competition within the UK telecoms industry and provide transitions for emerging technologies such as 5G.

UK broadband regulator Ofcom needs to consider new approaches to spectrum management to realise the full possibilities of 5G across the country, INCA CEO Malcolm Corbett said today, as a new report revealed Fixed Wireless Access can play a crucial role in delivering high-speed broadband across the country.

Commissioned by INCA and UKWISPA and conducted by Plum Consulting, the report ‘High performance wireless broadband: an opportunity for rural and enterprise 5G’ discusses the role independent networks will play in realising UK Government broadband targets especially in rural areas where investment in full fibre will take much longer to realise.

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New report predicts more than 14 million premises will be passed by altnets by 2025

Nearly one million homes and businesses in the UK are now in reach of ultrafast full fibre connectivity provided by alternative network providers (altnets), approaching double the number of premises reached by BT Openreach. Produced by Point Topic for INCA, and drawing together data from survey responses from INCA members, UKWISPA and Point Topic research programmes, the report also estimates that altnets with Fixed Wireless Access networks can reach up to a further two million premises, mainly in rural areas.

Digital and Culture Minister Margot James said:

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