ITSPA welcomes Government drive for full fibre rollout but adds caution to current plans for PSTN switch off

ITSPA, the trade body for the next generation communications industry, welcomed the announcement today of the Government’s Future Telecoms Infrastructure Review (FTIR) but highlighted some concerns around the current plans to switch off the PSTN, which forms part of its strategy.

ITSPA in general welcomed plans to incentivise further competition in the deployment of full fibre networks.  This includes supporting barrier busting proposals that keep the cost of fibre deployment low, increasing access to Openreach’s ducts and poles (as well as other utilities’ infrastructure) and the development of a more stable and long-term regulatory approach .

The Chair of ITSPA, Eli Katz, stated that “In general, the proposals put forward by Government are welcome. The UK is lagging behind many other countries in terms of full fibre rollout and it is important that we step up now to remain competitive. Our members already see the benefits that full fibre brings where it is currently deployed; both in terms of new business as well as service offerings for their customers. The message is clear, there simply needs to be more of it!”.

Switchover from the old copper PSTN network to full fibre forms part of the FTIR. Ofcom and industry are already in discussion around some of the issues that this switchover involves. There are some concerns that the process could endanger competition, harm smaller providers as well certain groups of consumers if the transition is not undertaken correctly.

Katz added “Whilst switching over to full fibre is definitely welcome, the Government and Ofcom needs to ensure that in doing so, they don’t hurt a thriving telco industry that has developed over the past few decades. A balance needs to be struck around existing regulations that were relevant in a PSTN world but are becoming increasingly less appropriate in an IP environment, where consumers and businesses are using services in a very different way. Equally there are certain processes that need to be maintained, with IP alternatives developed before migration can be considered. Issues range far and wide; from battery backup for 999 access to developing an IP version of TDM Interconnect but all are important to ensure the industry is not unfairly damaged by an ill-thought out transition plan. We will be working with Ofcom and Government to ensure these concerns are clearly understood as we work towards a prosperous full IP future”