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Broadband network ‘won’t cope’

Ofcom warns overhaul will be needed


Man at computer

The current broadband network will be unable to meet future customer demand for very high speed connections, the communications regulator has warned.

Operators will have to make ‘significant’ investment in overhauling the existing infrastructure, according to Ofcom.

This process of switching to ‘next generation access’ (NGA) has already started in some other countries.

Super-fast broadband

Ofcom launched a consultation on how it should regulate investment and development of the super-fast broadband network in the UK. NGA is the part of the broadband network which links people’s homes into the operator’s backbone network.

There are currently some upgrades being carried out to existing cable networks and to copper-based broadband networks in the UK.

But Ofcom’s consultation says: ‘.. there is likely to be a point beyond which today’s access networks will no longer be able to address increasing speed and coverage requirements.’

Competition benefits

NGAs could take many different forms. They may be upgrades to BT’s existing copper network or Virgin Media’s cable network – or even completely new wired or wireless infrastructures, the consultation says.

Other countries have started investing in new, fibre-based infrastructures. Debate here has so far focused on whether the UK should follow suit.

Ofcom chief Ed Richards said: ‘We want to ensure there are no barriers to investment and provide a clear regulatory environment which will help encourage investment.

‘But we also want to ensure that the benefits of competition which consumers have enjoyed with current generation broadband can also be achieved as we move to higher speed next generation access.’

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