Examination of Witness

Part of Product Security and Telecommunications Infrastructure Bill – in a Public Bill Committee at 3:38 pm on 15th March 2022.

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Till Sommer:

I am Till Sommer, head of policy at the Internet Service Providers’ Association. We are basically the trade body for the fixed-line ISP sector in the UK. We represent a whole range of companies, from the largest infrastructure providers that you heard about from the previous panel, such as Openreach and CityFibre, to the smaller start-up companies and ambitious alternative network providers who roll out their own networks in urban or rural areas. Some of them are focused on Wales, and others are focused on England and Scotland—there are a whole variety.

Then, on top of that, we have a lot of companies in our membership that provide services across these networks. That includes some of the household names, such as Sky Broadband, but also smaller challenger brands or business-focused providers. So it is a really diverse sector and a very ambitious sector. There is a lot of competition in the sector and quite often that gets overlooked when you just look at the sector from the outside and you see a few large companies. As I said, there is a lot of variety in the sector.

Interestingly, because there is so much competition in the sector, our members hardly agree on anything; they always bicker about policy positions. And wayleaves is actually one of the few things where every single member who builds networks is saying, “This is the single biggest barrier to rolling out broadband for me.” That is one of the few areas where literally every single ISPA member says, “Something needs to change.” That is unique. On almost everything else, I could tell you a variety of views, and this is one of the few areas where everybody says, “Something needs to change.”