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Ofcom outlines full-fibre support measures

July 24, 2018

By Colin Mann

UK telecoms regulator Ofcom has outlined a package of proposed measures to support long-term investment in full-fibre networks.

According to Ofcom, consistent, predictable regulation over the coming years can help companies build on recent full fibre commitments, and support the Government’s ambition for 15 million homes to have access to full-fibre broadband by 2025 – as set out in its Future Telecoms Infrastructure Review.

These plans explain Ofcom’s proposed approach over future years to support full-fibre investment, in order to provide certainty for industry and investors. They include:

  1. Regulating business and residential markets together. Companies investing in full fibre are increasingly seeking to offer a range of services over a common underlying network, serving both consumers and businesses. So Ofcom will now consider these markets together.
  2. Plans for unrestricted access to Openreach’s ducts and poles. The existing requirement for Openreach to allow competing providers to use its telegraph poles and underground ducts to lay their own fibre cables is currently restricted to companies offering mainly residential and small-business services. Ofcom will consult on plans to extend this access to companies offering high-speed lines for large businesses, as well as networks carrying data for mobile operators.
  3. Different regulatory approaches in different parts of the country. Ofcom intends to take a flexible approach to regulation, reflecting how many different competing fibre companies are present in a particular geographic area. Where competing networks emerge, there will be scope for Ofcom to deregulate.
  4. Extending the duration of regulation from three to five years or more. To help provide more longer-term certainty to investors, Ofcom will extend the period of its telecoms market reviews from three years to at least five.

These plans follow the direction set by Ofcom in its 2016 Strategic Review of Digital Communications, which focused on boosting investment in full fibre. The proposals represent the next step on that path – creating the conditions for companies to invest in modern networks.

Ofcom will consult in detail on these proposals later this year.

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