Ofcom to force feed localised fibre diet

It’s a new week, and therefore time for a new Ofcom consultation. This time the UK watchdog will be trying to understand whether it is feasible to hyper-localise regulations to encourage full-fibre networks.

While it might seem like a logical approach to dealing with an issue which is incredibly varied, the complexities have the potential to be quite staggering. Ofcom has previously commented on the difficulties in trying to force change onto the telcos, but this was a one size fits all approach; nuances depending on individual localities will most certainly test the competence, drive and patience of the team.

“Ofcom’s latest consultation underlines the importance of flexible rules when it comes to fibre infrastructure,” said Adrian Baschnonga, EY’s Telecoms Lead Analyst. “Levels of competition and willingness to invest vary by geography – and a more nuanced appraisal of the UK’s infrastructure landscape will play a key role in the regulation of fibre in years to come.”

In theory, the idea is a simple one. Regions will be placed into three categories, and the level of regulation will depend on the progress which has been made already. Those areas where fibre penetration is seemingly progressing steadily, i.e. the more commercially attractive areas, will feel the grace of deregulation, while on the opposite end of the scale, the more rural areas, rules will be firmed up to encourage investment.

The initial consultation will take place over the next couple of months, timetabled to finish next Spring, with the ambition of outlining the remedies by the Autumn and implementing during 2021.

The idea itself is of course a sensible one, even in a market as small as the UK the demands are quite varied, through implementation might be a lot more difficult. Telcos are anything but flexible in their approach to business, with changes being welcomed like man-flu.

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