Ofcom details plans to open up BT’s broadband network to competitors

Ofcom has today set out detailed plans for improving access to Openreach’s infrastructure, making it cheaper and easier for competing providers to connect their own fibre broadband directly to homes and offices.

Network competition can deliver significant benefits to consumers through choice and innovation, which can deliver higher quality and lower prices. Today’s measures are designed to spur investment in the next generation of ultrafast internet connections, and reduce the country’s historical reliance on Openreach – the network business within BT Group.

Ofcom’s plans will make it quicker and easier for BT’s competitors to build their own fibre networks all the way to people’s doorsteps using Openreach’s existing telegraph poles and ‘ducts’ – the small, underground tunnels that carry telecoms cables.

The main proposals, announced today, are:

  • Access on fair terms: Providers should be able to lay fibre using BT’s ducts and poles as easily as BT itself[1]; and the cost to BT for providing this access should be spread across all users.
  • Network ‘ready for use’: Openreach must repair faulty infrastructure and clear blocked tunnels where necessary for providers to access them.
  • Mixed-use networks: Companies can lay fibre for consumers and large businesses, provided the purpose of the network is primarily to deliver broadband to homes and small offices.
  • Final connections into homes: BT should ensure capacity is available on its telegraph poles for additional fibre cables that connect buildings to a competitor’s network.
  • Better information: Openreach will continue to develop a ‘digital map’ of its duct and pole network so competitors can plan new networks.

Yih-Choung Teh, Ofcom’s Competition Policy Director, said: “People increasingly need fast, reliable broadband. We’ll make it easier for companies to offer their own full-fibre broadband more cheaply by accessing Openreach’s tunnels and telegraph poles.

“This will put other providers on a level playing field with BT, so they have the confidence to invest in their own full-fibre networks.”

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