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Author Topic: ISP Gigaclear and RSN Call on Ofcom to Consider Full Fibre in its USO  (Read 263 times)


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The Rural Services Network and UK ISP Gigaclear have today joined others by calling on Ofcom to ensure that their forthcoming 10Mbps Universal Service Obligation (USO) for broadband will reflect the national plan for “full fibre” (FTTP) coverage, which the government hopes could reach universal coverage by 2033.

At present the USO proposes to give people the “legal right” to “request” a broadband download speed of at least 10Mbps (1Mbps upload) from a supporting ISP. The new measure is due to be enforced from 2020  and will focus on those in the final 1-2% of the UK, which aren’t expected to benefit from existing “superfast broadband” (30Mbps+) deployments (c.600,000 premises).

Meanwhile a growing number of organisations and alternative network (altnet) providers have been calling for the USO to be modified, not least in order to take account of the Government’s new aspiration to cover the whole of the United Kingdom in Gigabit capable “full fibre” (FTTP/B) broadband networks by 2033.

As part of their 2033 proposal, the Government estimated that pushing full fibre out to reach the final 10% of areas (i.e. the hardest to reach) was likely to require “additional funding” (state aid) of around £3bn to £5bn in order to support commercial investment.

However Gigaclear, which says they “would not be able to come forward” as a USO supplier under Ofcom’s proposed design, has today called on the regulator to “reflect on how the USO will interact with the delivery of full fibre” in their design for the new obligation. In particular both they and the RSN seek the following two changes.

Gigaclear / RSN Proposed USO Changes

1. Maximise the opportunity for the USO to support the delivery of ‘future-proofed’ connectivity where appropriate, as opposed to funding solutions that will quickly become obsolete as consumer bandwidth demands increase.

To do this, we propose that Ofcom compel Universal Service Providers delivering the USO to use existing and accessible full fibre networks that lie within a reasonable distance of the premises requesting a connection through the USO. Whilst this may imply some additional up-front cost, it will deliver a long-term solution compatible with the FTIR.

2. Mandate USPs to consider the impact on planned full fibre network rollout when providing universal service connections.

    RSN Statement

    In short, the RSN welcomes the implementation of the USO, but given the compelling ambitions of the [Future Telecoms Infrastructure Review] Ofcom should explore how it can deliver full fibre networks wherever possible. If the above proposals were to be adopted the RSN believes that more rural homes and businesses would benefit more quickly from access to full fibre.
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