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Smaller broadband providers have been hailed by Ofcom for kickstarting a shift towards greater full-fibre broadband access.

Speaking to the Financial Times, the watchdog's Chief Executive Sharon White said smaller companies have taken a lead on rolling out full-fibre infrastructure and established themselves as "disruptors" in the broadband market.

This, she said, has helped to "shake up the complacency of the incumbent", as the likes of Openreach are now stepping up their focus on the technology.

"This is what is starting to spur Openreach into baby steps in full-fibre investment, which really matters in terms of speed and reliability," Ms White commented.

"It is a good start, but I would like them to be more ambitious."

However, Kim Mears, Openreach’s Managing Director for Infrastructure Delivery, dismissed the suggestion that the launch of its fibre first programme was a response to rivals forcing its hand, insisting this is "absolutely not" the case.

Openreach recently pledged to make fibre-to-the-premises (FTTP) broadband, which offers speeds of up to 1Gbps, available to three million premises by 2020.

The organisation believes this will set it "on the right trajectory" to achieve its goal of building a ten million FTTP footprint by the mid-2020s.

This announcement came shortly after Vodafone announced a long-term strategic partnership with CityFibre, which will lead to up to five million premises having access to ultrafast broadband by 2025. 

The first phase will see FTTP technology being deployed to one million homes and businesses over three years.

Vodafone and CityFibre will then have the option of extending the commercial terms of their agreement to reach a further four million premises by 2025.

Meanwhile, TalkTalk is in discussions with Infracapital over a plan that could lead to full-fibre broadband being deployed to more than three million premises across the UK. 

The provider and Infracapital are looking at jointly setting up an independent company that would be responsible for creating the 1Gbps ultrafast broadband infrastructure.

TalkTalk would have a 20 per cent stake in the company, while Infracapital would own the remaining 80 per cent.

Full-fibre broadband is currently only available to around three per cent of UK premises, but Ms White of Ofcom believes the recent announcements mean the figure could be around 25 per cent by 2025.

This week, she was among the attendees at Hyperoptic's trial of its full-fibre broadband network, in which speeds of 10Gbps were achieved.

According to the company, this is "the fastest home broadband the country has ever seen" and the first time speeds on this scale were delivered to a home using an existing network, rather than a new dedicated line.

Following the successful trial, Ms White hailed the momentum that is building behind full-fibre, as "the amount of internet data used by people in the UK is growing by around half every year".

This, she said, means full-fibre broadband services will increasingly be needed to provide faster and more reliable connections and capacity to homes and offices.

Dana Tobak, Chief Executive of Hyperoptic, added that the trial was designed to "elevate the debate in a largely stagnant industry".

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