The UK fibre industry has reached an inflection point

Full fibre has become a political hot potato but increasing competition in the sector is far more likely to move things along.

A recent report in the Telegraph indicated independent fibre company CityFibre wants to change the terms of its agreement with Vodafone so it can play the field a bit more. We were unable to get any comment from the company on that story specifically, but it is consistent with what CityFibre CEO Greg Mesch recently told us.

Today’s CityFibre sees itself at the vanguard of a wave of independent fibre providers that are striving to be the third national player, alongside Openreach and Virgin Media. It stands to reason, therefore, that CityFibre would want to work with as many ISPs and operators as possible, while still honouring its commitments to Vodafone. The fact that Vodafone itself is reserving the right to play the field when it comes to fibre partners has presumably served to strengthen this urge.

This coincides with increased investment interest in fibre. CityFibre itself has been the recipient of several rounds of investment in recent years and a similar sort of thing seems to be going on in France. Couple that with the fact that UK politicians now seems to think talking up fibre is a potential vote winner and you have an industry that seems to be on the cusp of a boom.

Political interest is very much a double-edged blade, however. The flip side of governments and regulators aiming to create as benign a regulatory environment as possible is the ambition of ambitious socialists to appropriate the whole industry and do it themselves.

There have been reports that CityFibre was about to buy FibreNation from TalkTalk, but that everything’s on hold until we know whether Labour will be able to have its wicked way with the industry. It’s not hyperbolic to say the future of the UK fibre industry rests on the outcome of the imminent general election.

  • Cable Next-Gen Technologies & Strategies

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