Conservative Manifesto and what it says on broadband
The Conservative manifesto is now online and on the parties website.
As with the other manifestos we have covered we will stick to the broadband side of things as that is where our expertise lies.
Now is the time to invest in Northern Powerhouse Rail, and the Midlands Rail Hub, and so many more projects, as well as a massive programme of improvements for our roads and gigabit broadband for every home and business.
We intend to bring full fibre and gigabit-capable broadband to every home and business across the UK by 2025.
Our plan to upgrade infrastructure will make it easier for businesses to operate – to move goods about the country and to connect to customers around the world via gigabit broadband.
Of course, supporting enterprise is not just about championing businesses – more people than ever are moving into self-employment, especially women. We will therefore launch a review to explore how we can better support the self-employed. That includes improving their access to finance and credit (not least mortgages), making the tax system easier to navigate, and examining how better broadband can boost home-working.
We want to roll out gigabit broadband across the country by 2025, with £5 billion in funding already promised, and provide greater mobile coverage across the country.Broadband Extracts from Conservative 2019 Manifesto
Nothing new in the broadband sense since we have known of the 2025 plan since June 2019, though it was originally just a full fibre plan but now is a mixture of full fibre and Gigabit broadband, i.e. DOCSIS 3.1 that is already delivering 1.1 Gbps in two areas and should expand quickly to the full Virgin Media footprint will also count.
The £5 billion of funding is intended to help with the roll-out of full fibre in the final 10 to 20% of the UK where it is expected that commercial operators will shy away from delivering a commercial solution. Alas the manifesto gives no detail on how this money will be used, e.g. vouchers, more LFFN schemes or something more like the BDUK contracts but with full fibre and thus overbuilding some of the previously gap funded VDSL2 cabinets.
The 2025 timescale is ambitious but if Liberty Global does roll-out DOCSIS 3.1 in the next year or two, the UK will jump from around 10.5% Gigabit coverage to 60% very quickly. The big question is how much will the commercial roll-outs of FTTP overlap with Virgin Media and that will decide whether the £5 billion of funding has to deliver 3 million premises of FTTP or 5 million or a very worst case figure of perhaps 8 million premises.
The bit about examining home-working actually feels dated, but that might be because so many in the broadband industry do a mixture of already working from home or wherever they are located on the globe if there is a few Mega bits available.
If the construction of full fibre networks continues at the same pace as it has in the last 12 months our current projection is that half the UK will have access to full fibre in 2032, and 100% coverage in 2046. This illustrates how critical the DOCSIS 3.1 inclusion is to the 2025 target, but even with that big boost the pace of FTTP construction will need to increase substantially from today.