The governments communications minister Ed Vaizey is to hold a meeting with UK network operators to discuss the issue of fibre rates, a subject that has raised much debate, and various court cases over the last few years.
Fibre rates are raised by the Valuation Office Agency (VOA) which charge network operators when they 'light' (or start to use) fibre optic cables. The standard charge is based on each kilometre of fibre that is used with a minimum valuation of £2,000 a year. Many operators have spoken out about the excessive charges and the inequality that BT are rated differently based on the overall rentable value that is available from their network, averaged over 5 years. Before coming in to power, the Conservative party said they would re-evaluate how the rating system works to try and encourage investment in next-generation networks, but this hasn't happened, and the VOA instead released revised rules which could turn out to be more expensive.
One key proponent to the review of the rating system is Vtesse Networks who have spent a lot of time in court arguing the disparity between BT's rateable value and that of Vtesse and similar operators. The company lost its court appeal, but has taken this to Europe to try and get the decision overturned. Interestingly, Vtesse and BT don't appear to have been invited to the meeting to be held on the 2nd of December. Those who have received invites include Digital Region, Easynet, i3 Group, Gamma Telecom, Geo, NYNet, Rutland Telecommunications, Sohonet, TalkTalk, Virgin Media, the Broadband Stakeholders Group, and Ofcom.