10:07 28 April 2017
BT Openreach are to make their pole & cable ducts available to use to rival Internet Service Providers to open up competition in the FTTP (Fibre To The Premises) marketplace. Though PIA (Physical Infrastructure Access) has been available for some time to Independent ISP’s this has proved to be uneconomical for single user purposes and unfeasible for leased line business models.
FTTP has long been championed as a more cost effective solution than leased lines so business take up is expected to be good, however coverage is currently poor. Currently only around 2% of the UK is FTTP enabled but Openreach is under obligation to roll out truly superfast optic broadband to the premises. The agreement reached with OFCOM to make Openreach’s ducts & poles available to other ISP’s means the roll out will happen much quicker, many hands make light work after all.
Government backing in the form of 100% business rate relief for new FTTP infrastructure for 5 years from April 17 and the Digital Infrastructure Investment Fund which offers £400 million of investment for alternative networks means that the target of an additional 2 million FTTP connected premises by 2020 looks increasingly more likely.
OFCOM have released a final proposal on the new approach;
“The Main Proposals
Access on fair terms: Providers should be able to lay fibre using BT’s ducts and poles as easily as BT itself (there will be a non-discrimination requirement on BT for all processes, unless it can justify any differences); and the cost to BT for providing this access should be spread across all users (e.g. BT will be required to recover related costs, such as repairing ducts, in the same way it recovers these costs for its own deployments – for example, by spreading them across all the services that make use of the duct).
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. Openreach will no doubt be happy to see this versus the originally proposed ‘any usage‘ rule.
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.”
“Competition has been stagnant in this area because of the difficulties posed by restricted access to the Openreach network specifically required to provide FTTP services. As consumer broadband consumption continues to increase demand for FTTP products are becoming more desirable. Further competition between Internet Service Providers with equal access to the network infrastructure will deliver consumers better value for money and choice. For the SME market where VOIP/SIP continues to grow FTTP will be a competitive market at last, so we expect prices to fall.”