Ofcom chisels away at BT Openreach's cold, dead hands

"Instead of being constrained by BT's chosen strategy of incrementally upgrading its existing copper network, competing telecoms providers have the opportunity to build their own ultrafast networks, such as FTTP". Other providers now carry out their own work on the infrastructure, which has helped reduce delays.

Opening up BT's ducts will allow providers to significantly reduce the time it takes to roll out a new network - as well as the cost.

It comes just weeks after BT agreed to legally separate Openreach from the company, having secured a deal with Ofcom in which the telecoms giant would retain ownership of the network assets.

The proposals include access on fair terms, meaning that providers should be able to lay fibre using BT's ducts and poles as easily as the former telecoms monopoly, while the cost for providing this access should be spread across all users.

United Kingdom regulator Ofcom has unveiled plans to improve access to BT Openreach's infrastructure by giving competitors access to underground tunnels and telegraph poles.

"While it is unlikely that BT's primary competitors will want to use Openreach's poles and ducts to launch their own nationwide networks - the cost of such an undertaking would be gargantuan - improved access does invite greater competition from smaller providers whose goal it is to serve a specific region or locale".

"People increasingly need fast, reliable broadband", said Yih-Choung Teh, Ofcom's competition policy director.

The U.K.'s telecoms regulator set out plans Thursday to make BT PLC's (BT.A.LN) Openreach infrastructure network available to competitors, enabling them to build fiber broadband networks more cheaply.

The plans laid out by the United Kingdom telecom regulator are designed to create fairer network competition in the hopes that this will lower prices and improve services for customers by reducing dependency on BT's Openreach.

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Openreach will also have to fix faults and clear blocked tunnels if competitors need access to them, and make sure there is capacity on its telegraph poles for extra fibre cables that connect buildings to a rival's network.

United Kingdom telecoms regulator Ofcom on Thursday set out plans to help improve access to BT Group PLc's network infrastructure, to encourage investment from competitors in fibre broadband connections.

Since Ofcom outlined initial plans in December, Openreach has made the process for accessing its ducts and poles more efficient, following a trial past year with five other telecoms companies. Ofcom plans to require Openreach to ensure its existing network of ducts and poles is "ready for use".

Another issue has been that the underground ducts or telegraph poles are too crowded with other cabling.

And in an effort to drive FTTP, it wants action on the final connection into the home.

While this is welcome progress, Ofcom wants Openreach to make its digital map tool easier for other providers to use.

Ofcom said it expected to publish its final decisions in early 2018, with new rules taking effect on April 1 next year.

And the regulator warned BT that it is also considering changes to Openreach's rental charges for accessing its duct network, and will publish its take on that in the summer.

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