Proposed traffic legslation will have a detrimental impact on the rollout of broadband, a group of network operators has warned.
The Traffic Management Bill, currently working its way through Parliament, is better known for headline-grabbing clauses such as granting more power to the likes of traffic wardens.
But another clause relating to a proposed permit scheme designed to limit the impact of roadworks on traffic could impose impossible burdens on telcos, said Richard Sweet, chief executive of network operator Thus.
The clause would allow hefty daily charges to be levied against network operators for the time they need to dig up streets. This, claimed Sweet, would add up to 40 per cent to the cost of laying or maintaining cable and fibre optic for broadband connections.
Sweet told vnunet.com that Thus has completed rollout of its national network, and now predominantly carries out maintenance on the network or building links to connect new customers.
"This is one of the reasons Thus believes that charging telcos from the start of work is unnecessary: there is already a compelling commercial reason to execute digs as quickly and efficiently as possible. Failure to do so means we could lose customers," he said.
But the Department for Transport has dismissed the network operators' fears, claiming that the bill is not intended to stop utilities and telecoms companies from maintaining or expanding infrastructure, or to penalise them for this.
However, the operators maintain that the proposed permit scheme shows they are being used as a 'scapegoat' for traffic congestion.
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