Whatever the election decides, it is time to scramble in the Battle of Digital Britain

By Comms Dealer Editor Stuart Gilroy: If Labour wins the election on December 12th the comms sector will be plunged into a full scale emergency. The hope must be that Labour's broadband hijack is not just indicative of its antipathy towards commercial models for fibre, or Labour against the ICT sector, it is a case of Labour versus reality. 

In truth, the UK's full fibre and 5G infrastructure is far too complex to be delivered and managed by means of a state owned and run entity. And labour has surely underestimated the task at hand. Its free broadband pledge is so glaringly short of wisdom it lacks all logical fibre. That is its Achilles heel.

If Labour does not win the election, the industry will breathe a sigh of temporary relief. Temporary because, so long as Labour holds onto this manifesto pledge, fears of a potential crisis will always hang over the comms sector as future elections will carry the same threat. Let's not forget the common industry trope that whoever owns the pipe, owns the customer. 

If the Conservatives win, survival instincts must kick in and spur a supercharged period of fibre roll out to such an extent that future Labour efforts to nationalise Openreach and other elements of BT would be even more stark raving bonkers. So much so that, even to Labour, the idea would be untenable. 

The bones of a full fibre infrastructure have already emerged across many parts of the country. It has taken much investment, hard work and entrepreneurialism. Now, we can only try to calculate the damage done so far to full fibre investment pipelines. 

A Conservative win must see a return to confidence and the industry go full throttle on full fibre with investment, coopetition and collaboration across the industry becoming critical.

The role of Openreach will be vital. Just as pivotal are ICT service providers who have the power in their hands to prioritise full fibre, create demand and help secure the future of the industry as we know it. 

Whatever the election decides, it is time to scramble in the Battle of Digital Britain. 

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