Ofcom makes an assault [course] on BT’s infrastructure through the tunnel, up the pole and across the fibre lines

8 Oct 2010

UK telecoms regulator Ofcom has ordered incumbent operator BT to allow competitors to have access to a link over its new fibre lines. The regulator also said BT would be required to offer rival operators physical access to its underground ducts and telegraph poles so they can build their own fibre networks more cost effectively. With these measures Ofcom is paving the way for companies that currently cannot offer fibre-optic broadband (such as Sky and TalkTalk) the ability to add this option to their service offering, and is supporting the government’s aim to promote competition and investment in super-fast broadband services across the UK. BT will be left to set its own prices for access; but Ofcom said: ‘prices will be constrained by the highly competitive wider broadband market and will be subject to rules to prevent anti-competitive pricing.’ BT welcomed the ruling stating that Ofcom had now ‘provided much of the regulatory clarity and certainty that we have been seeking.’

CommsUpdate reported yesterday that TalkTalk is the first major ISP to confirm that it will be a wholesale customer on BT’s fibre-to-the-cabinet (FTTC) network, offering an up-to-40Mbps broadband service. Another major competitor, cableco Virgin, which was unsuccessful in its negotiations to access BT’s ducts and poles earlier in the year, welcomed Ofcom’s latest ruling, saying: ‘This is an important step that rightly focuses on opening up areas of the country not already served by super-fast broadband, removing one of the hurdles that make such developments near impossible at present.’

United Kingdom, BT Group (incl. Openreach), Virgin Media