British telecoms regulator Ofcom has launched a consultation on new pricing arrangements that have been proposed by Openreach, the network unit of fixed line incumbent BT Group. Calling for input on the matter, Ofcom said it had been notified of the proposals on 1 July, with the BT unit saying it intends to put the pricing arrangements – which apply to the pricing of its fibre-to-the-premises (FTTP) network access products in the Wholesale Local Access market – in place from 1 October. In response, the regulator has said it is inviting stakeholders to raise any initial concerns regarding the pricing to assist it in forming a provisional view on whether the notified offer raises competition concerns requiring ex ante intervention. With comments invited by a 16 July deadline, the regulator has said it will then review the feedback, and then expects to consult on its provisional view and publish a decision before the end of a 90-day notification period.
In a separate development, meanwhile, Ofcom has issued a statement related to existing Openreach FTTP offers with geographic pricing. In its wholesale fixed telecoms market review (WFTMR) statement published in March 2021, Ofcom decided to prohibit geographic pricing for some services to address a concern that Openreach could use targeted discounts to undermine new alternative network builds. At the time of the WFTMR statement, Openreach had three live offers which resulted in differences in rental pricing on a geographic basis, which would in principle be prohibited by the geographic discrimination prohibition. In order to avoid disruption to the market, the regulator temporarily exempted these offers from the geographic prohibition until 1 August 2021 while it consulted on whether to consent. Having now considered responses regarding this matter, Ofcom has issued a final decision, granting consent in relation to the three offers in question, permitting the existing geographic pricing to continue until the current offer periods end.