Telecommunications: Infrastructure

Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport written question – answered on 18th October 2021.

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Photo of Jamie Stone Jamie Stone Liberal Democrat Spokesperson (Armed Forces), Liberal Democrat Spokesperson (Defence), Liberal Democrat Spokesperson (Digital, Culture, Media and Sport)

To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, what assessment he has made of whether the rollout of full fibre infrastructure is (a) faster, (b) less disruptive and (c) cheaper when using existing duct and pole infrastructure.

Photo of Julia Lopez Julia Lopez Parliamentary Secretary (Cabinet Office), Minister of State

The government believes that reusing existing infrastructure, including but not limited to existing ducts and poles, can significantly reduce the time, cost and environmental impact of rolling out new broadband networks. Civil works, in particular installing new ducts and poles (or passive infrastructure), comprise the majority of costs of deploying gigabit broadband networks. In its Wholesale Fixed Telecoms Market Review 2021, Ofcom estimated that the reuse of Openreach’s duct and pole network cut the costs of deployment by around half.

Since 2019, Ofcom has mandated open access to Openreach’s ducts and poles, making it easier and quicker to deploy digital infrastructure networks. Furthermore, the government has consulted on making changes to the Access to Infrastructure regulations which support deployment using non-telecoms infrastructure.

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