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Industry: landslide vote gives telecoms chance to forge ahead

Mobile News
December 16, 2019

Experts say election result, which kills Labour’s plans of nationalising BT divisions, paves way forward

Mobile and tech experts welcomed last week’s Conservative landslide, which killed off Labour’s plan of nationalising BT Openreach, BT Technology, BT Enterprise and BT Consumer to offer free full fibre- broadband.

A BT spokesperson said the Conservative landslide offered a “vital opportunity to forge ahead in delivering digital infrastructure”.

“We look forward to commencing discussions with the new government as soon as ministerial positions are confirmed,” said a spokesperson.

O2 said it was ready to work with the new Johnson government to implement the Shared Rural Network, the £1 billion deal with the mobile industry to banish rural not spots.

A spokesperson at the operator said: “During the general election, Boris Johnson supported the Shared Rural Network and committed to progress it in the first 100 days of a Conservative majority government. We look forward to working with the government to implement the SRN as swiftly as possible.”

Poised to deliver

Gareth Elliott, head of policy and communications at Mobile UK, the trade association for the country’s network operators, said: “The mobile industry welcomed this administration’s announcement to commit to the Shared Rural Network in its first 100 days.

“We stand ready to deliver on this commitment and look forward to working with the government to bring about the significant opportunities that the network will bring to rural communities across the whole of the UK.”

Matthew Vickers, chief executive at Ombudsman Services, which resolves disputes between consumers and businesses in the UK telecoms sector, added: “The rollout of 5G and full-fibre are two of the critical infrastructure challenges facing the government.

“It’s important that consumers and SMEs are protected, as their trust and confidence will underpin successful innovation and investment in essential services.”

Labour’s controversial proposals would have threatened the strong recent momentum in the UK broadband market, which is enjoying billions of pounds of investment and highly competitive pricing according to CCS Johnson remains at No. 10 Insight director for consumer and connectivity Kester Mann: “UK telecoms operators will have breathed a huge sigh of relief that the prospect of free broadband and a nationalisation of BT is now off the table.”

Had Labour prevailed, it would have raised doubts over the prospects of many providers, particularly fast-growing alternatives like CityFibre and Gigaclear.

Boris Johnson has ambitious fibre broadband targets of his own, but much will depend on the regulatory environment used to enable BT to make a fair return on investment. Although the election is over, broadband is likely to remain a political issue for some time.

Ritam Gandhi, director of app developer Studio Graphene, said the Conservative victory meant that tech companies can begin planning for the future knowing there won’t be a major overhaul of existing policies and initiatives.

Vincent Disnur, head of sales and marketing at Union Street, said: “In light of Labour’s plans to nationalise Openreach, this is surely the best outcome.”

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