Busybody bureaucrat meddles gratuitously with UK fibre pricing

Ofcom has continued its role of chief busybody as it releases new initiatives apparently designed to encourage investment in full-fibre networks across the UK.

The bothersome bureaucrat has targeted more flexible pricing structures for ultrafast and full-fibre networks withe the stated aim of encouraging investment and promoting competition. The new initiatives include wholesale price cuts at Openreach, proposed for superfast broadband service to ensure low prices can be protected for consumers.

“Our plans are designed to encourage long-term investment in future ultrafast, full-fibre networks, while promoting competition and protecting consumers from high prices,” said Jonathan Oxley, Ofcom’s Competition Group Director.

“People need reliable phone and broadband services more than ever. We’re making sure the market is delivering the best possible services for homes and business across the UK.”

The pricing restrictions will apply primarily for packages offering 40 Mbit/s download speed, and 10 Mbit/s upload speed. Here, Ofcom will limit Openreach to £52.77, from today’s level of £88.80 per year, per line. In theory, these savings will be passed on by companies like Three or Sky to their own customers.

Although these changes will likely be welcomed by a more cash-conscious consumer, you shouldn’t hold your breath for the moment. The price limitations might not be in place until 2021.

Worldwide, the 5G rollout has been targeted for 2020, and while this is highly unlikely to be the case within the UK, 4.9999G could be a realistic ambition. Should 4.9999G be the objective by 2021, 40 Mbit/s download speed, and 10 Mbit/s upload speed will seem very-slow to the consumer. Essentially, Ofcom has decided to place pricing restrictions on a product which will be almost redundant by the time said pricing restrictions take hold.

Once again, this would seem to be an example of a loathsome legislator trying to appear proactive, while in reality causing little of consequence to come about.

Elsewhere, the attritional administrator has decided to impose new rules on how quickly Openreach needs to complete any repairs or faults for customers on the network.

  • Complete 93% of fault repairs within one to two working days of being notified, compared with 80% today
  • Complete 97% of repairs no later than six or seven working days
  • Provide an appointment for 90% of new line installations within 10 working days of being notified, compared to 80% within 12 days currently
  • Install 95% of connections on the date agreed between Openreach and the telecoms provider, up from 90% today

Continuing the breakneck speed which we have become used to from the repetitious rulemaker, these targets will have to be met by the end of 2021.

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