Ofcom tells BT to open up local access network to competitors

BT has been told by communications watchdog Ofcom to open up its high-speed network to other service providers to promote competition and investment.

After a thorough review of the UK communications market, Ofcom concluded that access to BT’s local access network remains critical for those companies seeking to compete in the delivery of services such as broadband and traditional voice services.

On the basis of that finding, Ofcom has imposed a number of regulatory obligations on BT, designed to support investment and competition in super-fast broadband.

The new regulatory model will allow competitors to deliver services over BT’s new Next Generation Access (NGA) network.

Not only will BT competitors be able to deploy their own NGA infrastructure between the customer and a local exchange, they will also be able to use BT’s duct and pole infrastructure and physically take over (or share) BT’s copper lines between a customer and a local exchange.

The moves will allow BT’s 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.

There are several types of NGA network. The highest-bandwidth NGA service is fibre to the premises (FTTP) with no copper cable anywhere in the link. For residential users, this is known as fibre to the home (FTTH). There is also an NGA system known as fibre to the cabinet (FTTC) where fibre-optic cable runs to a cabinet at the side of a street, but the network continues along existing copper wires into a building.

Ed Richards, Ofcom’s chief executive, said: ’The development of the UK’s super-fast broadband future is well under way with the roll-out of services in large parts of the country. Today, Ofcom has finalised a clear regulatory framework to promote investment, competition and innovation to enable as many consumers as possible to benefit from these exciting new services.’

The statement on access to BT’s network can be found here: http://stakeholders.ofcom.org.uk/consultations/wla/statement