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Much faster broadband using fibre-to-the-premises (FTTP) technology is a real possibility in the near future for many UK businesses.
Openreach has greatly increased its target for installing full fibre lines by 2025 and has started a consultation with communication providers (CPs) to work out how to move their customers from older broadband lines onto its fibre platform.
According to Openreach, FTTP can deliver downstream speeds of up to 1Gbps – although some providers state speeds much lower than this. However, FTTP will definitely offer a significant increase in bandwidth to companies across the South East who operate in Sussex, Surrey, Kent and Hampshire. This will boost productivity by speeding up sales and back office administration processes in addition to improving operational relationships with business partners.
Gary Jowett from Computer & Network Consultants in Brighton says: “FTTP could be a cost-effective alternative to installing a leased line. Leased lines are connected direct from the local exchange and offer much greater bandwidth than copper-based DSL broadband services. However, installation often takes a long time because permission from landowners and local authorities needs to be obtained before Openreach engineers can excavate the street and connect the leased line. When FTTP is rolled out to any geographic area the process should be much less painful. CPs simply connect the customer to the nearest green cabinet thereby significantly reducing the set-up and running costs compared to a leased line.”
Access to full fibre in a greater proportion of UK premises is now a much more realistic prospect with the launch of the government’s new Digital Infrastructure Investment fund which aims to help UK businesses and homes become less reliant on copper-based connections. It will be managed by Amber Fund Management and M&G Investments. The plan is for the £400m in the fund from the UK Treasury to be matched by investment from the private sector.
Even before legal separation of Openreach from BT was announced, the prospect of more fibre connections becoming available was already on the horizon.
Openreach announced last year that it will make available dark fibre to CPs from October 2017. CPs will have to light up this fibre themselves – rather than using Openreach’s platform but it’s another development that raises the mouth-watering prospect of more competition in the fibre market, keener pricing and a larger amount of FTTP on offer.
Gary says: “When your business is considering a move to new premises or an upgrade of its broadband services over the next few years, it’s well worth checking with an independent IT consultant about what options are available. It may be that FTTP is a real possibility in your locality. A move to full fibre could give your company a major advantage over your competitors.”