It may be possible to deliver 100mb fibre optic broadband to many businesses this year using the UK’s existing broadband infrastructure. There has been a huge amount of coverage in the press about the state of the UK Broadband infrastructure – mostly driven by election manifestos of the political parties.
Both Conservatives and Labour promise to upgrade the UK’s aging copper infrastructure to fibre so businesses and consumers have access to much faster broadband speeds. The problem with these plans is that they will take too long to deliver. By the time to UK has a new fibre optic infrastructure, the SMEs competiveness will be far behind their European counterparts.
What the UK needs is an intermediate solution to tide us over until the full rollout is complete, and there may be a way to deliver this now.
The solution as I see it is a simple one; the government should set up a Broadband subsidy grant system so that businesses wanting to upgrade their ADSL or Cable connections to the faster fibre private circuits can get BT, Virgin or independent ISPs to provide the more expensive 100mb fibre optic private circuits and claim back 75-90% of the cost of the first year and 50-75% of the cost of the second year. In the first year the one-off installation cost of the fibre circuit is quite high – usually around £9000 but the monthly rental is lower – around £700 per month.
These private circuits do vary in costs depending on where you are in the UK, so a rural private circuit costs and typically more expensive than ones located in major cities as there is more available fibre. There needs to be a scaling system for the subsidies to take this into account.
The fact is that most corporates already have access to these connections as they can readily afford the installation and rental costs. It is also true that there is already an abundance of fibre so the core issue is the cost of delivery – something that the government should be able to remedy.