UK’s communications regulator Ofcom has announced measures to halve the upfront cost of building full-fibre broadband network and increase coverage of full-fibre in the country from 3% currently to up to 20% by 2020.
The announcement to increase investment in full-fibre has been made following recent commitments by broadband companies that could see up to six million premises covered by full-fibre by 2020.
Under the new plans, BT will be required to make its telegraph poles and underground tunnels open to rival providers to build their own full-fibre networks quickly and easily.
This could reduce the upfront costs of laying fibre cables by around 50% and also slash the time required for digging works.
BT’s network division Openreach will have to repair faulty infrastructure and clear blocked tunnels so that providers can access them.
Openreach must also ensure space on its telegraph poles for extra fibre cables connecting homes to a competitor’s network and also release a ‘digital map’ of its duct and pole network so that competitors can plan where to lay fibre.
To protect consumers from high prices and make superfast broadband affordable, especially in rural areas, Ofcom said it will reduce the price that Openreach charges telecoms companies for basic superfast broadband service. This will also help BT’s rivals to compete for customers.
Ofcom said that moving customers to full-fibre broadband is a gradual process and in the meantime, Openreach should install new lines on its existing network and fix faults quickly.
By 2020-21, Openreach will be required to complete at least 88% of fault repairs within one or two working days of being notified (80% currently); and complete at least 97% of repairs within seven working days.
The plans also require Openreach to provide an appointment for 90% of new line installations within 10 working days of being notified (80% within 12 days currently); and install 95% of connections on the date agreed between Openreach and the telecoms provider (90% currently).
Ofcom has also set interim targets for Openreach to improve its service.