BT in discussions with CityFibre over possible access to ducts and poles?

4 May 2016

Britain’s BT is reportedly discussing the possibility of opening up its infrastructure to a rival provider in what would be a test of plans proposed by regulator Ofcom to introduce more competition for its infrastructure arm Openreach. According to The Telegraph, which cites industry sources, Openreach is currently in discussions with pure fibre provider CityFibre with regards to the possibility of a large-scale fibre-optic rollout over the telcos ducts and poles in Southend, with the incumbent said to be currently surveying its infrastructure in the Essex town to get the project under way.

While Ofcom earlier this year stopped short of recommending a break-up of BT and Openreach, it argued that there should be more competition at the infrastructure level. To that end, it argued that BT’s rivals should get cheaper access to the its ducts and poles to make building ultrafast broadband more feasible. As such, it has been suggested that the success of the proposed 50km project could prove crucial to BTs discussions with regulators over the future shape of the company.

However, industry sources have indicated that BT’s discussions with City Fibre are already casting doubt over whether Ofcom’s plans for duct and pole sharing are feasible, with concerns that Openreach’s infrastructure may not have the capacity to host rivals fibre optics said to have emerged already. ’There’s not enough capacity to build a fibre-to-the-home [FTTH] network in some of these ducts … Some of BT’s poles are full too,’ a source close the discussions was cited as saying.

United Kingdom, BT Group (incl. Openreach), CityFibre (incl. FibreNation)