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Gigabit broadband should not roll out at the expense of the customer, providers warn the Government

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Gigabit broadband should not be rolled out at the expense of the consumer, broadband providers have warned the Government, cautioning that a lack of healthy competition between firms could leave customers out of pocket.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson and Digital Secretary Oliver Dowden met with the heads of the UK’s largest broadband firms, including Openreach, BT, Virgin Media, CityFibre and TalkTalk, on Thursday to discuss the Government’s Project Gigabit plan to connect 85 per cent of UK homes and businesses by 2025.

TalkTalk was among the telecoms companies to criticise telecoms regulator Ofcom’s recent decision to raise the regulated prices of broadband, claiming the move would leave consumers stranded on lower-quality connections while paying more for the privilege.

Ofcom announced the wholesale price BT’s Openreach network, which is used by the majority of the UK’s service providers, would be tied to inflation to encorurage investment in full-fibre network last month – a decision Sky, Vodafone and TalkTalk all claimed could result in higher prices for their customers.

“Britain needs full fibre as soon as possible, but it must also be attractive and affordable for consumers, small businesses and start-ups as the country recovers from the pandemic,” said Tristia Harrison, chief executive of TalkTalk.

“Too narrow a focus on building targets and investment could result in an overly expensive product which people don’t want to use.

“Fast rollout will only be achieved if there is vibrant competition so that all builders can take part on a level playing field.”

Clive Selley, chief executive of Openreach, said the Government needed to tackle both barriers and vested interests in order for as many people as possible to benefit from faster connections, adding that “bold changes needed to be made quickly”.

“One pressing issue is making it easier for fixed network builders to access blocks of flats and private lands. Reaching these premises is critical for levelling-up the country and building at pace,” he said.

The Government needed to ensure gigabit vouchers – grants towards the cost of building new networks – were made available for people living in all rural exchange areas in order to meet its 85 per cent coverage target, he added.


All content in this article is for informational purposes only and in no way serves as investment advice. Investing in cryptocurrencies, commodities and stocks is very risky and can lead to capital losses.

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