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Ofcom chisels away at BT Openreach's cold, dead hands

We WILL make you open up infrastructure access, vows regulator

By Gareth Corfield

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Ofcom has set out exactly how it plans to prise open BT's grip on the UK's telecoms infrastructure, in a move designed to make it easier for competing telcos to install fibre broadband connections.

"Ofcom wants to ensure all providers can lay fibre in BT's ducts as easily as BT itself," said an Ofcom statement. "So we intend for BT 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."

Openreach, which is being carved out of BT, may also be forced to provide leased lines to competitors who lack the capital to roll out their own fully independent infrastructure.

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 telecoms regulator said it is "concerned" that the UK has low coverage of fibre-to-the-premises broadband connections.

Openreach's digital map of the UK's ducts and telephone poles must also be made easier to use, according to Ofcom. The proposals form part of its wholesale local access market review, with resulting rules set to take effect in April next year. ®

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