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Ofcom talks fibre-to-the-home

Government watchdog suggests it is set to make a deal with BT over a fibre broadband network in the UK.

Ofcom has said the government has a role to play in implementing a fibre network in the UK, although it concedes that full funding is "very unlikely".

"The questions are 'how?' and 'when?' not 'whether?'," said Ofcom chief executive Ed Richards, speaking to the Institution of Engineering and Technology. "In this, market players, the regulator and government all have a part to play,"

Earlier this week, BT suggested that it would re-think its refusal to install a nationwide fibre network, but only if Ofcom would recommend the removal of its universal service obligation, which forces the company to sell broadband services at a "resonable price" to anyone who wants them.

The speech from Richards suggests that just such a deal could be on the horizon.

"The growth in usage of services like the iPlayer is bringing more consumers into contact with their ISP's policies on restricting bandwidth usage. This is creating tensions with online rebellions against caps and 'bandwidth throttling'. But in the longer term, it may be that some consumers will be willing to pay a premium for higher download limits and higher speeds," explained Richards.

"There is no single application, or magic regulatory solution that will guarantee mass deployment and mass migration overnight - unless of course the Government decides it wants to spend many billions on funding roll out which I suspect is very unlikely indeed."

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