The great fibre debate

As ISPs squabble over infrastructure pricing and uncertainty surrounding demand, fibre broadband rollout in the UK could be in jeopardy. Tom Brewster investigates...

This leads to the question of why other ISPs aren't yet wholly convinced, especially when there are some significant cases where fibre has proven to be the difference between a successful business process and a failed one.

For instance, Virgin has a contract with North Lancashire Healthcare Trust, in which the latter needs fibre to run high definition video equipment. This includes HD cameras with screens hooked up to Wi-Fi, enabling a consultant working remotely to diagnose patients over the network, in particular looking at facial characteristics in stroke victims.

It saves the hospital time and money having a doctor able to work from wherever at whatever time. Without the high quality connection there, the service simply wouldn't be available.

Lift this into the business world, and you imagine the benefits. Think of crystal clear video calls, superfast cloud computing and speedy mining of so called 'Big Data.' Particularly with large projects in the modern world, copper ADSL connections simply won't match up to fibre.

Ofcom should not be forced to intervene. All the infighting and bickering needs to stop.

Regardless of what the reality is with demand, the case for business benefits is hard to deny. Once businesses realise these benefits, uptake will increase and the UK will become a speedier broadband nation.

Again, progress here requires the industry to act together, alongside Government, to extol the virtues of next-generation services to citizens and businesses alike. It is in everyone's interest.

Light at the end of the tunnel?

Clearly, the industry needs to collaborate more in the fibre space. Currently, the PIA argument and the lack of enthusiasm on the behalf of a few players are stunting the spread of fibre across the UK.

Industry needs to recognise there is an opportunity here. The fibre market is a nascent one. It remains open to collaborative innovation. Coming together at an early stage will breed future cooperation, which in turn will help the UK become a world beater in broadband.

The only thing companies should be arguing over is who offers the best services to the end user. Quality competition will push the market forward even more, helping the industry mature and flourish. If one or two company monopolise the industry, it will stagnate and fail.

Ofcom should not be forced to intervene. All the infighting and bickering needs to stop.

The UK's economy, its businesses and its people are relying on ISPs to deliver. Let's hope they do.

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