Ofcom believes that competition and investment in super-fast broadband can be delivered in both urban and rural areas. A statement from the media regulator has been designed to provide a further spur to investment by confirming the regulatory framework for these services. It covers two principal interventions:
1. Providing competing services over BT’s fibre lines
Ofcom’s decisions will allow competitors to have access to a dedicated virtual link over new fibre lines laid by BT (known as virtual unbundling). This will give other companies control of the lines to provide super-fast broadband services to their own customers.
2. Giving access to underground ducts and telegraph poles
Ofcom has concluded that BT should be required to offer access to its underground ducts and to its telegraph poles. This would allow its competitors to roll-out super-fast broadband to areas where BT does not plan to deploy its fibre network and to target specific areas earlier than BT’s roll-out. The economic case for duct and pole access should improve as the market for super-fast broadband develops.
These measures build upon competition in the UK’s current generation of broadband services which reached a significant milestone last month when the number of unbundled lines passed the 7 million mark. This has enabled rival communications providers such as Sky and TalkTalk to offer services over BT’s copper telephone network, delivering choice and competition for UK consumers.