Ofcom unveils new access proposals for BT's rivals

By:
James Pearce
Published on:

Proposals seek to open up access to Openreach's ducts and telegraph poles to BT's rivals to promote deployment of FTTH

UK regulator Ofcom has unveiled to promote large-scale rollout of fibre-to-the-home and curbing the country’s reliance on BT's Openreach.

The plans will see competitors able to build new network infrastructure with simpler and cheaper access to BT’s existing array of telegraph poles and underground ducts.

Carriers will be able to use this infrastructure to build cable and fibre lines directly to homes and offices, giving BT’s competitors more flexibility to innovate as technology evolves, the regulator said.

Ofcom first unveiled the plans in its once-in-a-decade Digital Communications Review in July, but has now fleshed out how this will be achieved.

Its proposals, which are open for consultation, include the creation of a “digital map" of the UK. This will be used to allow competing operators to plan their networks in advance of deployment.

Ofcom is also considering changing the way Openreach charges operators for access to ducts and poles. Proposals also include a required service-level agreement, which would include unspecified guarantees, and the possibility of making Openreach deploy fibre at the request of BT’s competitors that are offering full fibre to customers.

Yih-Choung Teh, Ofcom competition policy director, said: “Fibre is the future for broadband, and Ofcom is helping to deliver that through competition between networks.

“Today we’re explaining how access to BT’s tunnels and poles could be improved, allowing other providers to connect ultrafast, fibre broadband directly to UK homes and offices. Our plans will give providers increased confidence to invest in their own full fibre networks at reduced cost.”

According to figures released by the regulator, access to ducts and poles helped Spain and Portugal deliver full fibre broadband coverage of 79% and 70% respectively, compared with just 2% in the UK.

The latest suggestions from Ofcom come just a week after the regulator said it plans to press ahead with plans to make Openreach a legally separate subsidiary of the BT group.