Industry Body Responds to Labour’s Broadband Pledge

The UK’s independent networks co-operative association (INCA) has expressed its concerns to Labour’s pledge to nationalise parts of BT, providing the entire nation with free broadband by 2030

INCA has expressed its concerns that the practical implications of nationalising parts of BT could have a negative impact. The body’s CEO Malcolm Corbett agreed that the UK must “provide access for all” in order to be a leader in 5G and full-fibre and that it is “pleased to see the commitment Labour has shown to this through its latest pledge.”

However, Corbett continued: “The UK’s broadband market is currently thriving as a result of infrastructure investors and local communities, alongside the public sector. £3.3bn was committed by investors in alternative network providers (altnets) last year alone, in addition to investments by BT and Virgin Media. This has led to the deployment of Gold Standard world-class networks in cities and towns across the country, including in previously underserved rural areas, growing from a very low base of about 1% of premises to around 10% today. Accelerating the pace is important and all parts of the industry are working to do that.”

He concluded that “while we welcome Labour’s focus, we are concerned that some parts of the policy will dampen the vibrant market for investment in new fibre networks in the short term, thus delaying fibre roll-out,” and that while “Free broadband is an attractive consumer proposition” the proposition “could undermine innovation and consumer choice, as well as having a detrimental effect on the service provider sector.”

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