British telecoms regulator Ofcom has announced that it is making some regulatory changes with a view to helping broadband companies upgrade customers to faster broadband more efficiently, while also supporting trials aimed at providing customers with newer broadband and telephone services.
In a press release regarding the matter, the watchdog revealed that network infrastructure provider Openreach will undertake trials in Salisbury and Mildenhall to test the processes for moving customers off ‘older’ home and broadband services. To facilitate the Salisbury trial, Ofcom has decided to limit the application of current rules which require Openreach to provide wholesale access to standard and superfast broadband on its copper network. To that end, in Salisbury – where fibre is available – Openreach will no longer be required to provide new copper services when customers move home, change service or switch provider. Instead, it will be able to offer broadband over its fibre network only. In addition, Ofcom will permit the infrastructure provider to vary some of its charges to encourage participation in the Salisbury and Mildenhall trials.
Meanwhile, Ofcom noted that Openreach has created a new process for upgrades to be made in bulk batches at a street cabinet, reducing the cost per customer. Under this revised process, it would wait for a sufficient number of upgrades from a broadband company at a given cabinet before making those upgrades. However, under current regulations Openreach is required to install new broadband connections within a set timeframe. According to Ofcom, given the potential benefits to broadband customers of using this new process, it has, however, decided to make these orders exempt from certain rules that require them to be completed within a set timeframe.