Daren Baythorpe, CEO of ITS responds to Chancellor of the Exchequer, Rishi Sunak’s budget today
“We welcome the budget’s commitment to connectivity, giving it the recognition that it is as important as rail and road in terms of our country’s economic future. Achieving 100% full fibre by 2025 was always a tall order, so the shift to gigabit allows for other solutions such as fixed wireless to transition to full fibre while giving the consumer a capable, fit for purpose connection in the meantime. However, it shouldn’t be an excuse to not build full fibre where we can.
“With the race to gigabit well and truly on, we know that the final 20 percent is going to be the most challenging, though a number of altnets including ourselves are working hard to tackle this with great success. The ‘outside in’ approach goes a long way to providing support; and while rural is a big focus, we still shouldn’t underestimate the overlooked areas in plain sight in urban areas. Universal coverage is going to take a lot of collaboration – in our sector and across sectors. For example, stronger links between the telecoms and property sectors to build connectivity into planning from the earliest opportunity – not as an afterthought – just as any other utility or infrastructure would be. Legislative change is also very supportive of barrier busting to help build where it’s needed and at pace.
“On a final note, the success of the voucher schemes (GBVS and RGC) have played a huge role in stimulating demand, helping the funding get to the right places. For these reasons, we urge the government to continue with them and review the business rates relief on full fibre.”