How does Physical Infrastructure Access (PIA) supercharge the UK fibre roll out?

19 May 2023

One of the key drivers behind the roll out of full fibre networks across the UK has been the introduction of Physical Infrastructure Access (PIA), according to Ofcom’s recent report, with over 100 customers and c.23,000 km of duct and c.140,000 poles being used by providers to deploy their networks.

This is a regulatory framework that allows broadband providers to access Openreach’s infrastructure – such as underground ducts and telegraph poles – and lay their own fibre cables. But how exactly does this aid progression in the telecoms market?

The importance of PIA in the race to full fibre 

PIA has opened up new opportunities for broadband providers to expand their networks at a faster pace and at lower costs. In the past, companies would have to lay their own ducts and poles, which is an expensive and time-consuming process. However, with PIA in place, broadband providers can now access existing infrastructure and lay their own cables, which has significantly reduced the time and cost involved in rolling out fibre networks.

In fact, this access cuts the upfront cost of building these competing networks by around half which means more providers can enter the market and leads to more choices for consumers and lower prices for broadband services. This increased competition has also encouraged providers to invest in new technologies and improve the quality of their services to stay ahead of their competitors.

Another benefit of PIA is that it has allowed broadband providers to reach areas that were previously difficult or expensive to access. This includes rural areas, where the cost of laying new infrastructure can be prohibitive. By accessing existing infrastructure through PIA, broadband providers can now bring high-speed fibre broadband to these areas, improving the quality of life for those living there and boosting economic growth.

PIA has also encouraged collaboration between broadband providers and other infrastructure companies, such as electricity and gas companies. By sharing infrastructure, providers can reduce the disruption caused by digging up roads and pavements, which can be a major concern for local communities. This collaboration has also led to the development of new technologies – such as micro-trenching – which allows fibre cables to be laid in narrow trenches rather than traditional larger ones.

The future is bright

At BeFibre, we have seen firsthand the benefits of PIA for both consumers and providers. Thanks to our sister company, Digital Infrastructure, by accessing existing infrastructure, we have been able to expand our brand new network at a faster pace and at a lower cost, which has allowed us to offer high-quality broadband services at competitive prices.

As we continue to roll out full fibre networks across the UK, we are confident that PIA will play an increasingly important role in promoting competition, investment, and innovation in the telecommunications industry.

If you’re interested in our brand new full fibre offering, enter your postcode to check if BeFibre is available in your area, here.

All references to how many times faster our broadband service is, depends on you being able to access ‘superfast’ type broadband services of 70Mbps (or less) and selecting one of our packages at the advertised speed. Speeds shown may be affected based on the placement of the router in your property or the device you are using.

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