Ofcom eases price controls on Openreach broadband


A spokesperson from Openreach said: 'Ofcom's statement gives us certainty on their approach to key products and we welcome Ofcom's intention to support investment in full fibre networks. Space must be made available on its telegraph poles for extra fibre cables connecting homes to a competitor's network and the incumbent must release a "digital map" of its duct and pole network, so competitors can plan where to lay fibre.

To prevent BT from stifling new investment by rivals as network competition emerges, the former state monopoly will not be allowed to make targeted wholesale price reductions in areas where rivals are starting to build new networks, it said.

"A word of warning - the move to lower wholesale entry-level pricing, created to help drive the uptake of superfast services, risks being a wasted effort if the industry doesn't also urgently make changes that help surface the information that matters most to consumers when considering their broadband package".

The proposals are part of broader measures meant to boost broadband investment in the United Kingdom, including plans to increase current full-fibre penetration in the country from 3 per cent to 20 per cent by 2020.

Ofcom also wants to ensure that Openreach installs new lines on its existing network, and fixes faults, more quickly in the meantime.

At the moment just 3 per cent of United Kingdom homes and offices can access full-fibre broadband and the changes outlined by Ofcom aim to increase this to 20 per cent by 2020 - the equivalent of six million households.

"We've been making the process more accessible and user-friendly and we'll now work closely with our customers to consider how to develop and implement these latest proposals effectively".

Ofcom believes this will help ensure affordable access to superfast broadband by helping BT rivals compete for customers while several build their own full-fibre networks.

Britain's telecoms regulator will cap the price BT can charge rivals to use its fast broadband service and make it easier for all providers to use the company's infrastructure to build their own networks to boost the roll-out of fibre.

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Jonathan Oxley, Ofcom's competition group director, said: "Full fibre meets the country's future broadband needs, as demand for data soars".

This means it will be cheaper for firms such as Sky and TalkTalk to access the Openreach network, which should lead to lower costs for consumers.

'That puts us on the right trajectory to cover ten million premises with FTTP by the mid-2020s if the conditions are right. It will be required to complete at least 88 percent of fault repairs within 1-2 working days of being notified, up from 80 percent now, and to complete at least 97 percent of repairs within seven working days.

These draft measures follow the Wholesale Local Access (WLA) market review. These new requirements must be met by 2020/21 and the regulator says it will step in if these mandated standards are not met.

"The net impact at the group level will depend on the retail market dynamics".

BT owns the majority of the UK's broadband infrastructure in the UK.

"We are considering the implications for full and fair competition of the restriction on BT's ability to vary its FTTC and G.fast wholesale rental charges between different geographic areas".

The good news is that broadband companies hope to provide full-fibre to up to six million premises by 2020.