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Tories to relax rules around fibre provision

Relaxing regulations will spur the rollout of rural broadband by encouraging companies to lay fibre, according to shadow minister Adam Afriyie
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Written by Tom Espiner, Senior Reporter on

The Conservative Party has promised to enable superfast rural broadband by easing up on regulations and opening up access for those who want to lay fibre cable.

Conservative shadow innovation and science minister Adam Afriyie told ZDNet UK on Wednesday that should the Tories win the next general election, they plan to look at the rules surrounding fibre provision.

"We don't believe in stuffing taxpayer money into the centre, we believe in freeing up superfast broadband by relaxing regulation," Afriyie said at the Business Cloud Summit in London on Wednesday.

One of the key areas being examined by the Conservatives is access to ducting, with the aim of beginning to allow any organisation to use it, the shadow minister added. "We expect companies to lay the fibre," Afriye said.

In contrast to the Tory approach of deregulating and giving the market sole responsibility for deploying next-generation broadband access, Labour has proposed a 50p broadband levy on each fixed copper line. Lord Carter said in June that investment by operators would fund a fibre rollout to two-thirds of the country, while the levy would fund coverage for the remaining third.

"There's two models," Afriyie said. "You can take a big telecoms provider, provide £4bn and say 'here you go'. You stuff the money into the centre, and they roll it out. The other model is to relax regulation and release ductings."

However, Afriyie would not specify which regulations the Conservatives intended to ease, apart from those governing duct access.

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