Hancock: UK ‘must deliver on fibre broadband and 5G to be world leader’

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British minister of state for digital and culture has said that the entire UK needs fibre-optic broadband and 5G in order to be a world leader.

Speaking at the Broadband World Forum, Matt Hancock said that the challenge would be to create a plan that works for everyone and to ensure that people’s expectations are met.

He explained that by 2020, the volume of the world’s internet traffic is expected to be 95 times its 2005 volume, whilst in the UK fixed internet is predicted to double every two years.

Mr Hancock said: “We need the digital infrastructure that can support this; providing ubiquitous coverage so no one is left out, and with sufficient capacity to ensure data can flow at the volume, speed and reliability required to meet the demands of modern life.

“It is essential that we keep up.”

He went on to say that the country’s current mix of a fibre and copper network will not be enough to sustain traffic in coming years. Roughly five years ago, he said, the country decided to roll out high-speed broadband on a part-fibre, part-copper network.

“That was the right decision then, because many countries that pursued early full-fibre strategies have left large swathes of their citizens on super-low-speeds,” he said.

However, he went on to say that “the price we’ve paid for 95 per cent superfast part-fibre broadband is that only two per cent of premises have full fibre”.

Setting out his plan for the UK’s broadband and 5G strategy, he said that the first step is to complete the rollout of 4G and superfast broadband between now and 2020.

The next step is to “deliver deeper connectivity now in areas of deep need,” and support a competitive delivery market. The third step, according to Mr Hancock, is to “work now on ubiquitous 5G and fibre over the decade ahead”.

He said that ultimate aim is to to push digital connectivity out as far as it will go and to treat broadband as the fourth utility.