The UK Government's broadband advisory group has published a report which suggests the cost of deploying fibre based broadband in the UK will be as high as £28.8 billion...

The Broadband Stakeholder Group report, produced by Analysis Mason, looks at the various costs of various technological options for providing next-generation fibre based broadband to the UK population.

{mosloadposition davey}The report (PDF) breaks down the cost options based upon how much of the country actually gets access into the home, and how the cost varies if fibre is only provided to 'the cabinet' instead.

Because of the variety of options considered, both in terms of reach and technology, the actual costs involved in rolling out fibre broadband across the UK would be somewhere between UKP £5.1 billion at the bottom end and that incredible UKP £28.8 billion at the top.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, the costs of deploying to rural areas would "far exceed" the costs of urban areas it concludes.

The cheapest option would be to provide fibre to the cabinet, in itself still around three times as much as the telecoms industry spent deploying the broadband services infrastructure enjoyed in the UK today. The top end figure assumes access for everyone, in the home courtesy of 'point to point' fibre.

Antony Walker, Chief Executive of the BSG, says that the "scale of the costs looks daunting but the report does shed light on how some of these costs can be reduced and what the likely extent of commercial roll out will be. It should focus minds of commercial players, policy makers and regulators on the potential solutions to these challenges".

Focus minds, perhaps, on how the largest single cost component would be the civil infrastructure, that is the cost installing fibre in new or existing ducts. Costs that could be significantly reduced by re-using existing telecommunications ducts as well as sharing alternative infrastructure owned by other utilities, such as water companies.

Focus mind on how deployment costs are relatively constant across higher density areas, so if a commercial case for deployment exists then there is no reason why the market should not be able to deliver it to at least two thirds of the UK population.

Walker does concede that the commercial deployment to that last third is difficult, commenting "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."