Feeds

BT wins pricing control over faster broadband

Competitors must pay to play

Internet Security Threat Report 2014

BT has convinced regulators to allow it to charge rivals whatever it wants for access to its forthcoming £1.5bn fibre network, following an intensive lobbying campaign.

Ofcom said today that BT Openreach will have to offer rivals equal access to the network, as it does to existing infrastructure, but price controls will be removed. "This will allow investors to make an appropriate return on their investment, based on the risk they are taking but pricing at a level that the market will bear," the regulator said.

It means Openreach will probably offer competitors the choice of reselling active wholesale products, or of installing their own equipment in exchanges. Ofcom said BT Retail must be treated without favour.

BT plans to spend £1.5bn on fibre by 2012. New build developments will get full fibre to the home (FTTH) access at "up to" 100Mbit/s. The rest of the cash will be spent on cheaper fibre to the cabinet (FTTC) deployments capable of speeds of "up to" 40Mbit/s.

In total, BT chief executive Ian Livingstone said today, the investment will connect "at least" 40 per cent of households to higher speed broadband by 2012.

Internet users in sparsely populated areas are most likely to miss out because broadband investments in such areas show a lower return. LLU providers apply such economic analysis to the current generation of broadband services by shunning rural exchanges.

Similarly Virgin Media's cable network, which is being upgraded to offer speeds of "up to" 50Mbit/s, passes about half of households, in densely populated areas.

The first FTTC broadband packages are planned to go on sale early next year in Muswell Hill in London and Whitchurch, a small town in South Wales.

Ofcom's decision marks a significant - although widely expected - victory for BT. Since announcing the £1.5bn investment last July, BT executives have made repeated public threats they would withdraw the cash if they did not get free rein on pricing. With the UK's internet infrastructure being outpaced by international rivals, Ofcom was under great pressure to yield.

Lord Carter's much-criticised interim report on Digital Britain last month offered scant insight into how the whole of the UK might be connected to better broadband. Its pronouncements on next generation access were limited to vague references to mobile technologies and public works cooperation.

The internet industry now awaits more specific proposals in summer. According to the Broadband Stakeholder Group, an industry lobby, ubiquitous FTTH would cost up to £29bn.

Ofcom's announcment today and the accompanying documents are here.

An Ofcom spokesman sent us the following statement: "Ofcom's decision was based on nearly two years of public consultation. We did not "yield" to pressure from anyone, as suggested in your article. During our consultation we sought a wide range of views and in our announcement we are acting entirely in the interests of UK citizens and consumers, seeking to promote both investment and competition in super-fast broadband."®

Bootnote

Ofcom chief Ed Richards is appearing on The Telegraph's website this afternoon to answer questions about any area of Ofcom's responsibilities. Should be a hoot. Go here to join in. You can post questions in the comments box or, of course, via Twitter, the communciations medium favoured by the huddled masses whose interests Ofcom allegedly protects.

Beginner's guide to SSL certificates

More from The Register

next story
NSA SOURCE CODE LEAK: Information slurp tools to appear online
Now you can run your own intelligence agency
Azure TITSUP caused by INFINITE LOOP
Fat fingered geo-block kept Aussies in the dark
Yahoo! blames! MONSTER! email! OUTAGE! on! CUT! CABLE! bungle!
Weekend woe for BT as telco struggles to restore service
Cloud unicorns are extinct so DiData cloud mess was YOUR fault
Applications need to be built to handle TITSUP incidents
Stop the IoT revolution! We need to figure out packet sizes first
Researchers test 802.15.4 and find we know nuh-think! about large scale sensor network ops
Turnbull should spare us all airline-magazine-grade cloud hype
Box-hugger is not a dirty word, Minister. Box-huggers make the cloud WORK
SanDisk vows: We'll have a 16TB SSD WHOPPER by 2016
Flash WORM has a serious use for archived photos and videos
Astro-boffins start opening universe simulation data
Got a supercomputer? Want to simulate a universe? Here you go
Microsoft adds video offering to Office 365. Oh NOES, you'll need Adobe Flash
Lovely presentations... but not on your Flash-hating mobe
prev story

Whitepapers

10 ways wire data helps conquer IT complexity
IT teams can automatically detect problems across the IT environment, spot data theft, select unique pieces of transaction payloads to send to a data source, and more.
A strategic approach to identity relationship management
ForgeRock commissioned Forrester to evaluate companies’ IAM practices and requirements when it comes to customer-facing scenarios versus employee-facing ones.
10 threats to successful enterprise endpoint backup
10 threats to a successful backup including issues with BYOD, slow backups and ineffective security.
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?
Website security in corporate America
Find out how you rank among other IT managers testing your website's vulnerabilities.