INCA adds 32 members year to date
The UK's Independent Networks Cooperative Association (INCA) has added 32 members year to date.
The number – which includes the return of CityFibre – takes the cooperative's total membership to 209. Of those, 137 are operators, vendors and suppliers.
The new members include Freedom Fibre, Borderlink Broadband, Giganet, Spring Fibre, Save9, Toob and F&W Networks.
“As we welcome INCA’s new members, our unified presence in the industry reflects the overall strength of the independent sector. With the impressive funding achieved the altnets are well positioned to meet the Gigabit Britain challenge,” said Malcolm Corbett, CEO at INCA.
Established in 2010, INCA said the extra muscle it now has will enhance its ability to influence policy through the government and Ofcom.
Figures shared by INCA said that independent operators are expected to reach more than 6.6 million UK premises with fibre by the end of 2021 with an estimated 1.1 million live connections made.
INCA’s members currently reach over 1.2m homes and businesses in the UK and they expect they can reach 10 million homes and businesses in the next three to five years.
Backing this, a recent report from Point Topic identified 2.5 million homes and businesses can now connect to an independent fibre broadband network and an estimated £12 billion in funding has been secured by the independent sector in the period to 2025.
INCA further said that as its membership expands, the concerns and ambitions of the independent sector "are presented with a unified voice to government and regulator alike to press home the importance of ensuring that the playing field remains both open and fair to all".
“INCA is dedicated to representing the interests of the thriving independent sector and the new members affirm the confidence that the industry holds in our experience and insight. Virgin and Openreach have been the dominant forces in UK broadband, but it’s clear that together the altnets also wield substantial and growing influence. The influx of new members we have seen and the amount of funding the sector is receiving are good indicators of our collective strength” Corbett added.
Looking for alternatives
Connectivity providers in the UK have long sought alternatives to its fibre roll out.
While part of INCA's focus is a diversified industry, rural connectivity is another crucial issue on the table – and the cooperative reports that many of its members are currently developing next-generation networks in rural areas. In fact, it’s 2021 conference theme is "creating the gigabit future".
The wider industry is also taking note.
Earlier this week Three UK called on the UK government to explore the "credible alternative" of Fixed Wireless Access (FWA) to deliver gigabit connectivity in rural areas. And last month, Capacity reported that even BT is talking to OneWeb to deliver satellite broadband to its hardest to reach, rural areas.