Ofcom outlines plan to boost fibre broadband coverage

Among its latest proposals, it has suggested a cap on rental prices, now pegged to Openreach costs, for BT's duct network, affording competitors greater planning certainty.

Ofcom said these are "unnecessarily onerous" as it stands.

The scheme will let BT's competitors access its ducts and poles as previously announced, with an emphasis on building rival networks capable of delivering the "full-fibre" internets of the distant future that can exist alongside the country's ageing copper network.

Ofcom has detailed its initial plans to facilitate a "full-fibre future" for the UK.

For the final connection between the customer's home and the network, Ofcom wants to make it easier for alternative operators to lay drop wires from BT's telegraph poles.

It is going to be interesting to see what happens in the next decade, if PIA 2 works then an independent Openreach might morph into a duct and pole maintenance operation with a gracefully degrading copper network and invest very little in its own pure fibre services. This compares to around 2per cent now in the United Kingdom'.

Ofcom is also consulting on whether to require Openreach to upgrade its "drop wires", linked from nearby telegraph poles, with fibre instead at the request of competitors offering a full-fibre broadband service.

"Our plans will give providers increased confidence to invest in their own full-fibre networks at reduced cost", said competition policy director Yih-Choung Teh. Where a competitor relies on Openreach to carry out engineering work, it should know when this will be completed, so Ofcom is considering a requirement for service-level agreements and guarantees. Openreach will be set up with a majority of non-executive directors and the chairman unaffiliated to BT, but it can not take on its own debt, without indebtedness at BT rising, and until that is the case, nothing much will change.

LONDON-Ofcom, the United Kingdom telecoms regulator, announced plans for simpler, cheaper access to BT Group PLC's (BT.A.LN) network for competitors to lay ultrafast broadband Tuesday.

A consultation period on its latest proposals closes at the end of January. Ofcom and the government are working on plans to give everyone the right to request service of 10 megabits per second by 2020.

"Today's plans are created to reduce these hurdles significantly, encouraging a new era of network competition in the United Kingdom".

  • Carolyn Briggs