British Regulators Prescribe More Fiber for ISPs

While we laggards in the U.S. are still celebrating the FCC decision to (finally!) up the classification of broadband speeds to a lazy 768 kilobytes per second (but, hey, that’s up from 200 kilobytes per second) and lamenting our coming bandwidth caps, the Brits are prepping for a broadband boom.

The UK regulatory agency Ofcom is planning to release a regulatory framework in September to guarantee a financial rate of return on fiber rollouts in the UK. According to a story in PCAdvisor, Ofcom Chief Executive Ed Richards said at a conference that there had been a “step change” toward the idea of investing in fiber.

“Ofcom favours a regulatory environment for the next generation of networks and access that both allows and encourages operators to make risky investments, to innovate for the benefit of consumers and, if the risks pay off, for the benefit of their shareholders too.”

The goal is to help ISPs compete against the coming threat of wireless broadband from 4G cellular networks. Such LTE networks can reach speeds of up to 150 Mbps down and 30 Mbps up, although those in the telecommunications industry think it will likely start out at 20 Mbps down and 5 Mbps up. Either way, it looks like a competitor to a fat pipe into the home, and apparently many in Europe are eager to ditch their existing fixed-line service provider, be it for voice or DSL.

The framework might help the UK better compete with its neighbors; France, Germany and Sweden all have much faster broadband speeds and lower pricing, according to data from the Information Technology and Innovation Foundation. Given the demand for data, anything that helps get the fiber buildout rolling is good news for web publishers and consumers.

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