Ofcom super-fast plans, opening up BT infrastructure

Ofcom has published a series of proposals designed to promote competition and investment in current and super-fast broadband services. The proposed regulatory framework is designed to help encourage competition, whilst at the same time supporting investment and innovation.

Ocom proposes to allow competitors to have access to a dedicated virtual link over new fibre lines laid by BT (known as virtual unbundling). This would give other companies control of the lines to provide super-fast broadband services to their own customers. But in order to promote investment, Ofcom proposes that BT should be able to set prices for these new wholesale products to enable them to make a fair rate of return. These prices will be constrained by the wider competitive market.

Ofcom also proposes to give physical access to BT's underground ducts and overhead telegraph poles to other companies and allow them to lay their own fibre. Under these proposals, BT would be required to share detailed information with other communications providers about, for example, the available capacity and quality of ducts and poles. For duct, Ofcom proposes that BT makes a draft reference offer available within three months of Ofcom's concluding statement (expected in the autumn).

The consultations also consider competition in current generation broadband. Ofcom's initial conclusion is that broadband competition is effective in large parts of the country and for over 70 per cent of the population there will be no regulation.

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