The UK Fibre Connectivity Forum (UKFCF) continues to go from strength-to-strength, building upon the Parliamentary success established by its inception last year. The question, “Can the UK catch-up with the global full fibre connectivity race?” was the central theme that was discussed in-depth over drinks and canapés in the Terrace Pavilion room at the House of Commons.

It saw 200 delegates attend from across the full spectrum of the fibre optic industry as well as senior officials from the UK Government, Northern Ireland, Wales and Scotland and Department for Digital, Culture, Media & Sport (DCMS). The event was also attended by experts of the fibre optic and telecommunications industries, including Hyperoptic, CityFibre, O2, Telefonica, Virgin Media, Three, SEE, Sky and Maintel.

The event was opened by host and MP for Belfast East, Gavin Robinson MP. He mentioned that policymakers like himself are ready to listen to the experts of the industry to try and help bring about the full fibre revolution. Ian Lucas MP, a key member of the Commons Select Committee for the DCMS and MP for Wrexham spoke of the importance of full fibre connectivity to businesses in his constituency and elsewhere in the country.

UKFCF chair and CEO of Sorrento Networks, Askar Sheibani, passionately outlined the case for full fibre, stating that implementing full fibre networks is an act of patriotism and has already demonstrated to help revolutionise British business in some parts of the British Isles but we must do more to compete with other European countries.

Panel Discussion

The Q&A session, chaired by Askar Sheibani, looked at the status of full fibre deployment in the UK and ways the barriers to full fibre connectivity can be overcome.

A key theme was how to accelerate investment in full fibre networks. Although there is a high market penetration in VDSL (Very-high-bit-rate digital subscriber line), there has been minimal in full fibre with penetration at just 1-3% of the United Kingdom.

Community Fibre and event sponsor Hyperoptic announced plans earlier in the week to pass 100,000 homes and businesses in Southwark in multiple projects.

The government’s Department for Culture, Media and Sport, has made significant steps to help improve the environment in planning and implementing full fibre networks through what Justin Leese refers to as the “barrier busting team”. It also provides financial assistance where it isn’t immediately attractive for the private sector to invest. It was also suggested fibre be installed in all greenfield and brownfield building developments as part of planning approval process.

Six members made up the Q&A panel:

• Erzsébet Fitori, Director General of FTTH Council Europe
• Richard Jones, Co-founder and Chief Commercial Officer or Ventura Next
• Justin Leese, Local Full Fibre Networks Program Director of Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS)
• Gary Thompson, Managing Director of Between Spaces Limited
• Floyd Windener, Chief Sales Officer of Hyperoptic
• Andrew van der Haar, Managing Director of Fiber Carrier Association (FCA) in the Netherland

The annual parliamentary event was headline sponsored by Hyperoptic. Sorrento Networks, part of the Comtek Group was the parliamentary sponsor. The function coincided with the UK’s largest independent cloud industry event – Cloud Expo Europe of which the Comtek Group was an exhibitor, held at the ExCeL in London on 21-22 March.

UK Fibre Connectivity Forum

The Fibre Connectivity Forum (UKFCF) is an association of organisations and individuals committed to working together to support and advise the UK Government in delivering policies that will create a fertile environment for the rapid growth of the UK’s digital economy. UKFCF’s vision is to establish affordable, high-speed full fibre connectivity across all parts of the UK in all commercial and residential buildings, delivered on a level playing field for all stakeholders.

UKFCF was established in 2017 further to last year’s annual connectivity-themed parliamentary event, where the proposal of creating an inclusive forum was received with overwhelmingly enthusiastic agreement. Its quarterly meetings are well-attended by representatives from across the fibre optic industry. Read more here. And March’s Parliamentary Reception further welcomes all members to participate as part of our collective campaign.

UKFCF’s next meeting is on 18 June 2018, taking place at Grant Thornton’s Finsbury Square offices in central London. For more information or to become a member of the UKFCF, please contact Steph Roberts at steph.roberts@ukfcf.org.uk or call 01244 283069.

Photographs

Below is a selection of photographs from the evening.

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