September 27, 2015
Communications regulator, Ofcom, has called on the telecoms industry to invest in next-generation networks to stop the UK falling behind Europe and the US.
The regulator has launched a two-month consultation with the telecoms industry and the public, to gather ideas for the proposed high-speed network.
The UK’s current network is working at full capacity due to the increasing popularity of video-on-demand and other high-bandwith services, and Ed Richards, Ofcom’s chief executive, warns that it is only a matter of time before it “runs out of steam”.
With countries such as France, Germany, the US and Japan already investing in networks which can deliver up to 100 megabits a second, Ofcom is concerned that the UK economy could be adversely affected unless the country follows suit.
Investment in next generation networks is expected to initially focus on urban and affluent areas, and Ofcom is concerned that this could increase the digital divide.
Ofcom’s vision is for a “mixed economy”, with some areas connected by ultra-fast fibre optic cables, while other areas will use BT’s existing copper phone lines, with new technology increasing speeds.
Some areas could be connected via wireless broadband services, with satellite serving remote rural areas.
Cabling for high-speed broadband could be laid in the UK’s network of sewers – a method that has worked successfully in other European cities such as Paris.