Cost of rural broadband outstrips that in cities

The cost of connecting rural Britain to superfast fibre-based broadband will far exceed costs in urban areas, say government advisers.

Fibre-based connections, which enable download speeds of 30-100 megabits per second, could deliver a range of benefits.

But the Broadband Stakeholder Group (BSG) said rolling out fibre nationwide would cost up to £28.8bn, depending on the technology used.

The cost prediction is contained in a report (pdf) produced for the group by Analysys Mason, published on Monday (8 September).

Even the cheapest option would cost £5.1bn – three or four times more than the telecoms sector spent deploying today’s broadband services.

But the cost of deploying in more sparsely populated rural areas would be significantly higher, said BSG chief executive Antony Walker.

“If rural areas are to be served in a reasonable time frame, thinking needs to start now about creative solutions for making them more attractive to investment.”

The cost per home connected – and therefore the commercial viability of the service – would be highly dependent on the level of take-up, said Mr Walker.

“If operators could achieve a higher-than-expected level of take-up in rural areas, then the business case for deployment in those areas could improve significantly.”

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