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More people than ever now rely on a steady, fast internet connection

Covid-19 has transformed the way we use the internet

By Rob Skinner  

The importance of rolling out gigabit connectivity is apparent to all; broadband is a utility that needs to be treated as critical national infrastructure, in the same way as water and electricity.

Despite underinvestment over the last 10 years, we now have an opportunity to become one of the most advanced digital economies in the world. But to provide gigabit-capable speeds to everyone by 2025, the UK needs to encourage large amounts of private capital to build long-term infrastructure assets. This is an age-old issue for governments across the globe. Getting it right means Government and the regulator creating a framework that provides investors with the confidence to invest in a competitive and fair broadband market.

At Octopus, we raise this private capital and use it to back businesses that are changing the UK for the better, from renewables, to healthcare and energy efficient housing.  We also support some of the UK’s most exciting and innovative small businesses, creating competition in legacy industries to help build a better Britain. Fibre broadband is our next focus.

Government funding will help operators connect the most rural parts of the UK, and ensure that nowhere gets left behind.  This is being targeted, as it should be, at the parts of the UK that are hardest to connect. The rest of the UK, from large villages to big cities, can economically support one or more fibre networks. It is clear that BT Openreach won’t be able to build everywhere by 2025 and as a result, DCMS and Ofcom have done well to encourage new competition in the sector.

That’s why we’re backing companies like Jurassic Fibre and Swish Fibre to build state-of-the-art fibre networks, without using this Government funding.  They are looking to deliver incredible broadband speeds that change the lives of their customers.  In the last two years, Jurassic Fibre has become a key part of its local community, building fibre networks across the South West in towns such as Exmouth.  Swish Fibre is building around the home counties, focusing on underserved market towns such as Marlow and Gerrards Cross in Buckinghamshire.

The Government is right to have an ambitious target on gigabit-capable broadband.  Technology in society is growing exponentially, and fibre networks are an enabler of the innovation that technology can create.  The result will benefit customers and boost economic productivity across all of the UK.  A change is coming with full fibre, and we’re excited to be part of that.

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