Openreach, the network arm of UK fixed line incumbent BT, and Japan’s Fujitsu have announced that ‘strong progress’ has been made in trials of the former’s duct and pole sharing products. In a press release issued by BT, the telco noted that Fujitsu last week connected its first end-users via the incumbent’s duct and pole infrastructure as part of trials of fibre-to-the-premises (FTTP) technology in the Wirral. On the back of the progress made with Fujitsu, coupled with positive feedback provided by both the Japanese company’s UK arm and a number of other triallists, Openreach has revealed it plans to introduce its Physical Infrastructure Access (PIA) product commercially later this month. Once fully launched, BT notes that all UK communications providers will be able to order the new products ‘on an open, wholesale basis’.
The development comes on the back of Openreach’s decision last month to issue revised prices for its PIA product, with the telco in early October announcing that it was reducing access prices significantly, in some cases cutting fees by more than 60% compared with the draft pricing announced in January 2011. Openreach claimed that the revised costs for its PIA product were up to 38% lower than the European average for such access in rural areas. At the same time as revising the pricing structure, Openreach also revealed that it was breaking down some products in to their component parts, a move it said would allow alternative operators to pick the elements they wanted to purchase while continuing to deliver those services they wanted to themselves.
Commenting on the latest development, Openreach chief executive Liv Garfield said: ‘We’ve pulled out all the stops to make sure our products fit the needs of our customers, so I have been delighted by the positive feedback we’ve had from Fujitsu UK and others. Pole and duct access will enable communications providers to deliver superfast broadband speeds in areas outside the existing planned commercial footprint, so we felt it was important to launch the products as soon as possible.’ The CEO of Fujitsu Telecommunications Europe Limited, Andy Stevenson, meanwhile added: ‘Fujitsu UK have made strong progress to date using Openreach’s poles and ducts and so we welcome the imminent commercial launch of their products. I’m delighted to announce that the first of our triallists are now live on our trial network, and we’re proud to be the first communications provider in the UK to offer service through this route to market. Whilst there are still some points of detail we’re working through ahead of commercial launch, we’ve been reassured by Openreach’s collaborative approach towards pricing and product development, which gives us the confidence to move forward.’