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April 20, 2017updated 25 Jul 2022 8:17am

Ofcom reveals new plan to open up BT broadband

Ofcom has made several proposals in order to ensure that BT's competitors have increased access to Openreach's infrastructure.

By Joe Clark

Ofcom has announced detailed plans on how it aims to improve access to Openreach’s infrastructure following the company’s recent separation from BT.

The plans laid out by the UK 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.

The proposals put forward by Ofcom are measures to ensure increased access to tunnels and telegraph poles, proposals to support fibre investment, and access to Openreach’s existing tunnels and poles.

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.”

The hope is that these plans will make it “quicker and easier” for competitors of the broadband giant to develop their own fibre networks and offer consumers more choice in their broadband solutions.

Other changes put forward by the telecoms regulator include making networks ‘ready for use’ meaning that Openreach must repair any faulty infrastructure to allow customers access. In addition to this, companies will be allowed to install fibre for both businesses and homes, provided that the installation is predominantly used to deliver broadband for homes and small offices.

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BT specifically must also ensure that there is enough capacity on its existing telegraph poles to allow its competitors to connected their cables to home networks. Whereas, Openreach must maintain its ‘digital map’ so that BT competitors can accurately plan out any possible expansion work.

These proposals are not final however, and will be cross examined during a consultation process, which ends on June 15. A final draft of the rules will be ratified in the early stages of 2018 before coming into effect on April 1st.

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