Industry Talk

Regular Industry Development Updates, Opinions and Talking Points relating to Manufacturing, the Supply Chain and Logistics.

Full fibre in full force

In line with the Government’s dedication to its Levelling Up scheme, the UK is currently implementing Project Gigabit to deploy full fibre broadband to households and businesses nationwide by 2030. The initiative aims to bridge the digital divide and provide efficient connectivity to millions of people throughout the UK.


Picking up pace

The rollout of full fibre broadband in the UK has made significant progress in the last year, with Ofcom’s data revealing that a record 17 million homes are now connected.

Data from 2023 also highlights that the availability of full fibre broadband reached more than half of the premises in Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales. Approximately 28 per cent of homes and businesses with access to full fibre have taken up the service, with a higher uptake rate in rural areas compared to urban homes. The number of premises unable to access “decent” broadband also decreased by over a quarter.

Furthermore, Openreach has already connected more than 12.5 million homes with its full fibre infrastructure, surpassing the halfway mark towards its individual goal of enabling 25 million connected homes by 2026.

If the network deployments proceed as planned, the number of properties equipped with full fibre broadband is thought to increase to 27 million by May 2026 — up from 15.4 million in May 2023.

In fact, Ofcom has analysed data from the largest broadband providers and, based on the information it reviewed, it predicts that the UK will be at 91 per cent full fibre availability by May 2026, four years ahead of the target.


Driving forward in 2024

So where does that leave us at the start of 2024? While we must acknowledge full fibre’s rising uptake, we must not ignore the fact many areas in the UK still suffer from a below average service.

The uneven distribution of broadband infrastructure across the UK means that the further North you go, the fewer properties connected to the internet via full fibre. In the case of Hull, only one broadband provider has served homes and businesses for decades. The absence of competition has led to no incentives to reduce prices, ultimately resulting in Hull having some of the highest broadband costs in the UK.

Altnets, such as MS3 Networks, are actively involved in initiatives to provide high-speed broadband services to households in the regions of Hull, East Yorkshire and North Lincolnshire. MS3 aims to cover 535,000 properties, including the whole of Hull by the end of 2024, and has already covered 37,000 properties in Scunthorpe.

The stats are promising. With a 15 per cent uptake in full fibre broadband last year, it looks like the industry is on track to deliver its 2030 target. 2024 figures are yet to be seen, but with altnets bringing greater competition to areas that are subject to higher broadband costs, full fibre rollout will be made accessible for everyone.