DCMS proposes infrastructure re-use for new broadband networks

The Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) is considering changing regulations to open up other different of infrastructure for broadband networks.

In a call for evidence on the Review of Access to Infrastructure Regulations - open until 4 September - the government has proposed measures which would make it easier for network operators to run high speed broadband cables through the electricity, gas, water and sewer networks.

DCMS explained that it would also take in ‘passive’ infrastructure owned and used by other telecoms companies - including utility ducts, poles, masts, pipes, inspection chambers, manholes, cabinets and antennas.

It could also give easier access to run cables along new and existing road and rail networks.

Minister for digital infrastructure Matt Warman stated: “It makes both economic and common sense for firms rolling out gigabit broadband to make use of the infrastructure that already exists across the country - this will help them avoid the high costs and disruption of having to dig or build their own and ultimately benefit consumers.

“We’ve seen progress with improved access to Openreach’s ducts and poles, but other telecoms companies have large networks that are not easily accessible," he continued, adding: "We want them, and utility companies, to do more to open these up and help speed up getting next-generation broadband to people across the UK.”

The documentation noted that currently civil works, in particular installing new ducts and poles, can make up as much as 80 per cent of the costs to industry of building new gigabit-capable broadband networks.

Therefore, the proposed changes could significantly reduce the time and cost it takes to roll out gigabit-capable broadband.

Research from the National Infrastructure Commission has previously suggested that infrastructure re-use could lead to an £8 billion cost saving for companies deploying new broadband services.

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