Greater access to Openreach’s ducts and poles under latest Ofcom proposals

Ofcom supports fibre investment with unrestricted duct and pole access.

Ofcom proposals to allow access to Openreach-operated ducts and poles for fibre network installation - Office Phone Shop

These latest proposals hope to address competition for dedicated, high-speed, or leased lines (Ethernet). This includes the high-speed point-to-point data links used to connect larger businesses that provide the capacity for both mobile network operators and broadband ISPs. These lines also provide vital, high-capacity links for hospitals, schools and libraries.

Ofcom rules already specify that Openreach, the company that maintains the UK’s main broadband network, must allow competing providers to use its telegraph poles and underground ducts to lay their own fibre cables.

The problem with this is, it’s currently restricted to companies primarily offering residential broadband services.

Ofcom would like to allow companies greater flexibility to lay fibre networks that serve both residential customers and businesses. This includes high-speed lines for large businesses, networks carrying data for mobile operators and high capacity lines supporting broadband services.

In some areas, where there is already duct and pole access, competition from rival operators is low. In these areas, Ofcom is proposing that Openreach allows competitors physical access to its fibre-optic cables, with direct control of the connection passed on to them. This service, often referred to as ‘dark fibre’, would then be ‘lit’, not by BT’s electronic equipment, but by that of the competitor at either end of the optical fibre.

The consultations on these proposals will run until 18th January 2019, with final conclusions published in the spring of 2019.

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