Colchester broadband company slams Labour’s ‘free full-fibre’ plans
PUBLISHED: 08:57 19 November 2019
Johnnie Pakington Photography
Labour’s ambitious plan to roll out free, universal full-fibre broadband across the country has come under fire from an alternative network provider.
Lloyd Felton, chief executive of County Broadband, based at Colchester, fears the proposal could delay or even derail existing full-fibre investment, and called for a mix of public and private investment as "the only realistic strategy".
"The announcement highlights the importance of full fibre access for all," he said.
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But he added: "It also shows an alarming lack of understanding about the complex nature of full fibre rollouts and the fact that, unlike by comparison the rail industry that operates rail franchises, the industry has already invested billions of pounds in building its own infrastructure over which the service is delivered, in direct competition to BT."
County Broadband - which is backed by £46m in private investment from Aviva Investors - is building new fibre-to-the-premises (FTTP) hyperfast networks across rural Essex and Norfolk.
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"This proposal would almost certainly lead to delays or at worst derailment of existing full fibre investment and new network roll-outs," he said.
"It is broad-brush, and makes no mention of how customers would be served and supported, and provides no recognition for what has been achieved by the many Alternative Network providers (AltNets) who are currently active in providing a competitive full fibre solution.
"The competitive nature of the current market in the UK has meant consumers already benefit from one of the lowest cost broadband services in Europe.
"Broadband is an essential utility and whilst we share the ambition to bring future-ready full fibre connectivity to every home and business, we believe a mix of public and private investment is the only realistic strategy to deliver the service efficiently, without the need to bring significant cost to the public purse."
The firm is aiming to provide connection access to around 40,000 premises by the end of 2020.
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