Ofcom tells BT to get the duct out

Over a year after first demanding BT make its ducts and poles available to third parties Ofcom has announced it really means it.

“Ofcom has today set out detailed plans for improving access to Openreach’s infrastructure, making it cheaper and easier for competing providers to connect their own fibre broadband directly to homes and offices,” said the announcement. Those plans are apparently the culmination of a consultation commenced at the end of last year.

To recap: the thinking is that another way to improve competition among UK ISPs is to give them access to BT’s ducts, rather than having to dig their own, which is prohibitively expensive. So now the likes of Sky, who constantly moan about Openreach, can create their own fibre networks, and thus be no longer beholden to the hated wholesaler.

In practice, even if they don’t have to do any digging there would still be a lot of cost associated with such a move so the more pragmatic business approach remains leasing infrastructure from BT and trying to reduce the cost by the power of moaning.

“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,” said Yih-Choung Teh, Ofcom’s Competition Policy Director. “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.”

In case you’re still struggling to get your head around the concept, Ofcom provided the handy diagram below.

ofcom duct diagram

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