British telecoms regulator Ofcom has published a consultation seeking views on its plan to defer a decision on proposals to remove copper wire regulations until after it publishes its final decisions in its Wholesale Fixed Telecoms Market Review (WFTMR).
Having originally set out its proposed policy on copper retirement as part of the published in January this year, Ofcom said that instead, it will now canvas WFTMR consultation opinion on a revised proposal to wait until after it makes its final decisions in the WFTMR statement to consider how to define the circumstances in which premises can be excluded from the definition of a completed ultrafast exchange area. Based on the regulator proposals at the start of the year and Openreach’s announced plans, it anticipates that the earliest that the copper charge control will be removed will be in December 2022 in Salisbury, and in June 2023 in a further 117 exchange areas.
The watchdog’s WFTMR consultation had clarified too that the aim of the copper retirement proposals is designed to promote fibre investment by shifting the focus of regulation from copper to fibre, and to support the migration to fibre services. An important aspect of those proposals included a period of regulatory transition after which, when Openreach has completed ultrafast coverage of an exchange area, Ofcom would lift the existing charge control on the anchor copper service. However, the regulator has noted that there may be ‘very limited circumstances’ in which Openreach may not be able to connect some premises in an exchange area with ultrafast services, ‘despite all reasonable efforts’.