Fibre misuse is “coming back to bite” broadband industry

GigaHead exec has called on Ofcom to highlight the benefits of full-fibre broadband

Internet service provider's misuse of the term ‘fibre’ is “coming back to bite” the broadband industry.

That's according to GigaHead's head of policy and regulation James Fredrickson, who made the statement during the first day of the Connected Britain conference.

“Our industry suffered from the use of the word fibre,” he told attendees. “Now it's coming back to bite the industry, where actually the operators who may have been responsible for that misuse [of the term ‘fibre’] are suddenly going to sell full-fibre, and how do you do it?”

‘Fibre’ has been a popular term for providers to refer to fibre to the cabinet (FTTC) broadband, whereby fibre cables are used only for part of the cable’s journey. For example, the fibre would be installed to the point of the customer’s local cabinet where it would switch over to the slower and less reliable copper wire, creating greater latency and thus customer dissatisfaction - potentially making them feel wary about switching to full-fibre.

Fredricksen called on regulatory and competition authority Ofcom to do more to tackle the issue and raise awareness of the advantages of upgrading to full-fibre broadband, as the industry struggles to market the technology to customers.

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“I think in that respect, having a convenient process through Ofcom that tries to find an industry solution to actually talking about the unique benefits of that infrastructure in a consistent way, is a very sensible way of resolving that problem,” he said.

Ofcom’s group director of Networks and Communications Lindsey Fussell, who was also present at Connected Britain’s roundtable discussion, didn’t address Fredricksen claims. IT Pro has contacted Ofcom for comment.

The calls follow the news that half of all premises in the UK now have access to gigabit-capable broadband. However, the public awareness of the technology has also been found to be low – recent research commissioned by the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) found that only a third of the UK’s smallest businesses have ever heard about the technology.

This lack of awareness was even higher among consumers, with almost 60% of those surveyed admitting that they were not aware that Gigabit-capable broadband existed. 

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