More than 90 per cent of the UK could enjoy 1Gbps FTTP broadband with the money set aside for high speed rail from London to Birmingham says the founder of ISP Hyperoptic.
Boris Ivanovic has contrasted the £17billion earmarked for the first part of the HS2 rail link with the less-than-£2billion being provided to improve Britain’s broadband network.
Ivanovic is the co-founder of Hyperoptic, which specialises in FTTP connections of up to 1,000Mbps for locations not served by BT. He previously co-founded Be Broadband, which sold to O2 for £50m.
Speaking to Guardian readers online, Ivanovic said: “For the money being spent on one high-speed rail link, we could have fibre to every single person in the UK.
“If we had those links we wouldn’t need to travel as often to Birmingham and we wouldn’t be polluting the environment by travelling.
“Hyper-fast fibre network is an infrastructure of the future and that we should look at it as such. We need to focus on it, as seriously as we focus on more traditional infrastructures like roads, rail, airports etc, and proportionally allocate funds to where we believe we will get the best returns.
“Hyper-fast fibre networks will certainly yield returns in the coming years and decades, and bring benefits to all participants in the society, be it consumers, businesses, government or administration.
“The current and projected investment from the government is just a drop in the bucket, and while it will certainly help, it will not make much of difference in the overall availability of hyper-fast fibre based services.”
The current subsidies for broadband come to £45/household at most, but the typical cost of fibre-to-the-premises is £1000 and £1500 per household.
Commercial operators will only target the cheaper areas with dense populations and apartments, which Ivanovic says could leave a third of the UK without superfast broadband.
Rural broadband slow-lane
Ivanovic warns that the most remote areas will be unlikely to get superfast fibre broadband connections, even if government funding increases significantly.
“My personal opinion is that the last 5 to 10 per cent of homes are always going to be expensive to deploy fibre to directly, and I believe that those areas will most likely and best be covered by a combination of satellite or fixed wireless technology,” he added.
“Those are unlikely to provide speeds of 100Mbps or 1Gbps, but will still provide sufficient speeds for most applications.”
That won’t give much hope to Welsh rural broadband activists Wispa, who are demanding fibre installations from the deepest valley to the highest mountain-top.