Vodafone plans to invest in full-fibre network in the UK if it finds partners to share costs
Vodafone will invest in full-fibre network in Britain if it finds partners to share the costs. It plans to lay ultrafast full-fibre broadband connections to homes and businesses in Britain. The mobile network operator plans to spend 2 billion euros on new full-fibre connections in Germany and also has invested in fixed line broadband networks in Italy, Portugal and Spain.
Vodafone UK CEO Nick Jeffery said he had the capital available to make an investment in Britain. “We are a committed investor, our strategy is very clear,” he said at the launch of a report commissioned by Vodafone called “Digital Super Towns, Unlocking the UK’s digital potential”. “If we can find the right economics and the right partners we’ll invest here.”
At present, Britain’s broadband infrastructure is dominated by Openreach, the network operator owned by the former state monopoly telecoms company BT, which provides connections to Vodafone and other service providers.
Apart from Openreach, there are a number of other rival mobile network operators such as Virgin Media, owned by Liberty Global. There are a number of other small operators like CityFibre. Openreach has restrained from running fibre lines till now because of the high costs involved. Instead, it focused on deploying new technology to speed up the existing copper phone lines. But, Openreach is reconsidering this policy and exploring the possibility of full-fibre network. It is now sounding out its wholesale service operator customers about whether they would be willing to co-invest in full fibre connections. Vodafone was in talks about making such an investment.
“We would work with any provider who can give us the scale and access and good economic costs to connect fibre to the homes of Britain,”
Jeffery said, but declined to comment on the possibility of a deal with Openreach. Vodafone needed to make an adequate return, he said, which could need government incentives or partners taking a long-term strategic view to reduce the cost of individual connections. The UK government’s digital economy minister Matt Hancock said on Wednesday the focus had to be on full-fibre and 5G mobile broadband networks.
“The regulator Ofcom has legally separated BT and Openreach, and the test of that separation will be whether Openreach now works with other providers as well as with BT to provide the infrastructure for other retail companies to get out there,”
he said at the same event. A spokesman for Openreach said the company was in consultation with its operator customers about investing in full- fibre networks.