Ofcom's Told BT it has to Share its Telegraph Poles With Other Internet Providers

By Tom Pritchard on at

Ofcom wants the rollout of ultra-fast broadband to go smoothly, so it's gone and published a number of measures designed to make it cheaper for internet providers to install the necessary infrastructure. These measures will also force BT to share its telegraph poles and underground tunnels with the competition.

According to Ofcom this move will cut the upfront cost of laying fibre cables by around 50 per cent, as well as reducing the amount of time they need to spend digging. That means laying fibre cables will take a few hours, rather than a few days, and that means fewer roadworks to contend with on your way to work.

BT will also have to release a digital map of its duct and pole networks, so rival providers can actually plan where they're going to install their own fibre networks. In addition Openreach will also be responsible for repairing infrastructure and clearing any blocked tunnels so that they're accessible, and will be restricted in how much it can charge telecoms companies for its basic superfast broadband package. The idea being that Ofcom wants to protect consumers against high prices, and help improve competition in areas that wouldn't normally be able to benefit from a lot of choice - like the countryside.

Basically the new measures are mostly about reducing the amount of power BT and the BT-owned Openreach have over the greater fibre rollout. According to BBC News these measures also mean the cost of connecting a home to a full-fibre network will be reduced from £500 to £250 - which should prevent high costs being passed onto customers.

BT is obviously not happy about the announcement, releasing a statement that said it would be "considering the implications for full and fair competition", with particular relation to the new restrictions on how it can vary its wholesale prices between different areas. It also noted that it means Openreach's revenue and profit for the 2018/19 financial year is likely to be reduced by £80 million - £120 million.

Meanwhile TalkTalk and Hyperoptic have both welcomed the changes, though consumer rights organisation Which? has said these sorts of changes need to be made more quickly and ensure more investment in essential internet services. [Ofcom via BBC News]

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