World Broadband Association plan for gigacities

White paper sets out key criteria for ensuring most people in urban centres have access to gigabit-speed internet essential for maximising socioeconomic development.

A new report from the World Broadband Association (WBBA) stresses the need for ambitious national, regional and city-wide plans to encourage the development of ‘gigacities’. These are cities where the majority or residents and businesses have access to gigabit-speed internet.

red and yellow light on dark room

Photo by Compare Fibre

Of course, this kind of infrastructure is being rolled out across the UK as part of the government’s Project Gigabit. According to Ofcom’s latest Connected Nations report, published in December, 92% of homes in Northern Ireland can now access gigabit-speed internet. The figure is 78% in England, 72% in Scotland and 64% in Wales.

As well as setting targets for the adoption of gigabit broadband services, the report says that government bodies and regulators must oversee greater coverage of fibre infrastructure in residential, business and public areas, as well as in school buildings. Market development and universal service obligations can also be advanced by greater policy support and financial incentives.

WBBA is an industry-led association providing leadership for digital broadband innovation across the next decade.

Gigacity investment, it says, can ensure high-speed broadband connectivity even in what are typically underserved, developing markets. Yet there’s a long way to go: the report cites estimates that just 26% of households will have a gigabit-capable connection by 2028. Increasing that figure requires legislation to encourage the expansion of gigabit broadband technologies from cities to rural areas.

But the report also looks longer term, to the need for ‘10Gigacities’, requiring next-generation tech for both mobile and fixed networks. That would mean the delivery of 10Gbps speeds for home, campus, mobile broadband and enterprise networks, with optimal 5G and fibre-to-the-home (FTTH) network coverage and high user take-up rates. This, says the report, provide opportunities to coordinate the efforts of government, private, and non-profit organisations to enhance a nation’s competitiveness and international standing. Basically, countries that don’t invest in this technological infrastructure will lose ground to other nations.

Dr. Marcus Brunner, Chief Expert for Enhanced Broadband, Huawei, and WBBA Working Group Chair, says: ‘During the COVID-19 pandemic, the importance of high-quality, fixed broadband became abundantly clear. In a digitalised society, remaining connected is a necessity. Cities and their residents, businesses and public services can all benefit from gigabit-speed fibre connectivity, but only if greater investment is provided. Only then will everyone be empowered to take advantage of the unparalleled socioeconomic benefits gigacities can deliver. We hope our recommendations encourage governments to take action immediately.’

Michael Philpott, Research Director, Service Provider – Consumer at Omdia, and co-author of the report, adds: ‘We have set out a number of key characteristics, which include the level of fibre to the homes (FTTH) passed, mobile cell site fibre connectivity, median broadband speeds, and more. As gigabit city developments continue to increase, we have also set out what is required to actualize 10Gigacities and ensure reliable connectivity for all is maintained.’

In related news:

£1.1bn for rural full fibre

Gigabit a priority for local councils, 5G not so much


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