Balancing Broadband Expansion and Community Harmony: Minister’s Take

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Digital Infrastructure Minister, Julia Lopez MP, recently wrote an open letter to fixed-line operators, addressing the issue of installing new telegraph poles in the UK. According to her, the solution lies in the sharing of infrastructure. Many MPs have raised this issue due to growing frustration among their constituents about the excessive duplication of overhead fibre networks. It’s a common feeling that the public lacks control over infrastructural deployment in their areas and this influences their perception of full fibre deployment negatively.

Stressing that these concerns are more profound in some regions (more so in rural areas), Lopez urged fixed-line operators nationwide to promptly respond and address these complaints. In view of this, the government is keen on rolling out a revised set of guidelines. The objective is to ensure involvement from communities in the roll-out of new broadband infrastructure, without obstructing operators from extending their networks.

The Minister stated, “Telegraph poles are a key piece of infrastructure bringing faster connectivity to communities and businesses across the country. Most telecoms companies are doing a fantastic job in delivering that connectivity with the support of those communities, by sharing existing infrastructure and taking into account surroundings when putting up new poles.”

However, she pointed out that certain firms by inappropriately or unnecessarily putting up new infrastructure, lose vital community support. To counteract this, Lopez has proposed sharing existing infrastructure. She spoke about upcoming revisions to the Cabinet Siting and Pole Siting Code of Practice. The code provides guidance to operators on how to appropriately install telegraph poles and cabinets, and effectively engage local authorities and communities about proposed installations.

The proposed change ensures community involvement in the deployment of new broadband infrastructure while still permitting operators to extend their networks. This presents an opportunity for faster connectivity and better consumer choice.

In the concluding part of her letter, Lopez thanked operators for their continuous effort in enhancing the country’s connectivity goals. She underlined the critical role of infrastructure sharing in gaining the trust of the public and speeding broadband deployment.

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