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Ofcom consults on future of broadband regulation
Wednesday 26 September 2007 08:00:52 by Sebastien Lahtinen

Ofcom (www.ofcom.org.uk) has this morning published a consultation document on the future of broadband regulation in next generation access networks in light of the increasing interest in new technologies requiring significant investment to meet the increasing demands for bandwidth.

'Next Generation' access networks include configurations such as 'Fibre-to-the-cabinet' (FTTC) and 'Fibre-to-the-Home' (FTTH) which make use of the vastly greater availability of potential bandwidth that can be delivered over a fibre optic cable which uses light rather than electrical signals to transmit data. Fibre is already widely used in the backhaul and core networks of service providers. FTTC technology is also used within the cable network operated by Virgin Media and BT already made its intentions clear in regards to using fibre in the local loop between the exchange and the customer premises.

The problem with investment into fibre has always been concern by shareholders on the level of return on investment, particularly taking into consideration regulation issues. Indeed, there is an important question of at which point in the physical network should the competition be enforced?

"Investment in Next Generation Access will represent a substantial commercial risk and the market should decide where and when it will be made. We want to ensure there are no barriers to investment and provide a clear regulatory environment which will help encourage investment. But we also want to ensure that the benefits of competition which consumers have enjoyed with current generation broadband can also be achieved as we move to higher speed next generation access."

Ed Richards (CEO), Ofcom

A fibre optic network will be excellent news for those currently receiving limited broadband speeds, particularly in rural areas since fibre signals can traverse much further with far less signal loss or those lines affected by electrical interference since fibre is immune to this.

The consultation which will run for just over two months asks respondents five key questions:

  1. When do you consider it would be timely and efficient for next generation access investment to take place in the UK?
  2. Do you agree with the principles outlined for regulating next generation access?
  3. How should Ofcom reflect risk in regulated access terms?
  4. Do you agree with the need for both passive and active access remedies to promote competition?
  5. Do you consider there to be a role of direct regulatory or public policy intervention to create artificial incentives for earlier investment in next generation access?

An executive summary of the consultation is also available. For more information on the consultation, and information on how to take part are available on the Ofcom website.

Comments

Posted by rickw over 9 years ago
Its not just rural areas. I live near London City Airport where you are lucky to get 1M download purely because BT won't, or can't, do anything about a long copper link back to the exchange probably under the dock!
Posted by chrysalis over 9 years ago
Ofcom are out of touch if they think only rural areas have long local loops.
Posted by CARPETBURN over 9 years ago
Its about time they made the monopoly named BT answer a few questions about investment in updating technology, now lets hope they have the balls to make BT and others comply with whatever decision they make.
Posted by herdwick over 9 years ago
Monopoly my ass. I look forward to buying a fibre optic connection off my German owned electrical utility, or off my French electricity supplier or Spanish owned mobile phone company. Or maybe we'll do a building to building community ethernet LAN and get a feed into that.
Posted by herdwick over 9 years ago
OFCOM uses the word "rural" twice in a 117 page document, the above is Seb's own work. OFCOM say "Customers in dense urban areas, who already benefit from the fastest current generation broadband speeds, may be the first to see further speed increases as a result of next generation access deployment, while rural
customers may see no improvement in their current, limited connectivity." which I took as primarily a reference to cable and LLU ADSL2+ services (and likely NGA rollouts), but if you think they're missing something that is precisely what a consultation is for.
Posted by CARPETBURN over 9 years ago
Herdwick please we all know you have shares in BT but if you cant see that to all purposes they are a monopoly here in the UK there is no hope for you.
Name one other telecommunications provider as big as BT with as many people that depend on BT owned wires in the UK and ill withdraw the monopoly comment.
Posted by csimon over 9 years ago
"...which I took as primarily a reference to cable and LLU ADSL2+ services..."

Also refers to low speeds, instability and even lack of normal ADSL, probably even more so as NGA will not solve these problems which is why they've said "rural customers may see no improvement [as a result of NGA]".
Posted by csimon over 9 years ago
Clarification: NGA *would* solve the problems if it happened in rural areas, the point is that they are saying the urban areas will have it first therefore the rural areas will see no benefit! 21CN and ADSL2+ definitely won't solve the problems even if they do happen in the rural areas.
Posted by CARPETBURN over 9 years ago
21CN and ADSL2+ for MANY people in a rural area or a long distance from the exchange will in many cases bring no benefit at all over current BT ADSL MAX based services. I will defend partly though over the rural situation thing and those being the last on the to do list, theres no point hurrying to hook up a exchange if the punters on it are gonna see little or no benefit.
Posted by gaydarren over 9 years ago
As long as BT are paying fines to Ofcom, they aint gonna FORCE BT into doing anything. BT have already given (Set aside) £50million at the start of the year for fines of EOI impossed by OFCON to the end of the year. The phrase dont bite the hand that feeds you springs to mind.
Posted by herdwick over 9 years ago
definition of monopoly ? ONE supplier in a market. We all know carpetbum is a ranting cretin but heard of cable ? Easynet ? C&W ? Thus ? COLT ? sheesh.

As we're talking about NGA which currently has zero suppliers there is no monopoly.
Posted by CARPETBURN over 9 years ago
http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/monopoly
id say BT fits into a lot of those descriptions.
especially the first 5 items.
Oh and Easynet dont provide phone service to anyone, Sky who own them may do, but thats a different company. THUS only provide voice solution to business not residential and as for a couple of your others i suggest you compare the prices of a new line with them to what BT would charge.... now what was i saying ah yes thats right BT=Monopoly
Posted by CARPETBURN over 9 years ago
Gaydarren hits the nail on the head, Ofcom wont do bugger all to punish the likes of BT as they are happy making money from them. If we look at http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/monopoly again look what we have half way down...
Monopoly: A situation in which a single company or group owns all or nearly all of the market for a given type of product or service. By definition, monopoly is characterized by an absence of competition - which often results in high prices and inferior products.
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