Openreach have today revealed their draft proposals for physical infrastructure access (PIA) which is a product that Ofcom are requiring Openreach to provide. This will allow other network operators to use BT's existing ducts or poles to deploy cables for their own network use, and should in theory make it cheaper to run networks along-side BT's as it can avoid costly work with digging up roads of pavements to install new cabling ducts. Openreach are also inviting communication providers to participate in a trial of the service to test all aspects of the process.
One key use for PIA would be to allow other network operators to start rolling out fibre to areas where BT do not deem it cost effective to deploy. This could therefore mean that areas in the final-third of the country which are currently deemed unviable to receive fibre-broadband could see a change to this policy- assuming duct and pole sharing is cost-effective to the network operator.
On designing the reference offer, Openreach have looked to other European and International operators where similar services are already available and suggests that its price proposal is approximately 15% less than the average in France, Spain, Portugal and Germany. Openreach are looking at £0.95 per per metre of spine duct on a 10 year term, or £1.16 on 5 year term. A lead-in duct on a 5 year term would be £2.12 per metre. Cables run on poles would be subject to a £21 fee per attachment. Other charges are applicable for splicing or cable coiling within ducts as well as various fees for work to be carried out by Openreach staff.
A key point that Openreach are looking to impose on other network operators who want to use BT ducts or poles is that they will also need to open up their own infrastructure in a similar way. This could therefore allow BT to perhaps find cost efficiencies through using other ducts where either its own are full or it only has over-head cables in areas. Whether Ofcom will allow this condition to be in place will be interesting to see.
"Today we're doing what we promised by offering the communications industry yet another way of accessing our network in order to deliver super-fast broadband speeds to homes and businesses. We've listened to the views and requirements of our customers and will continue to work closely with industry and Ofcom to finalise the details of our duct and pole sharing products.
Although we don't view duct and pole sharing as the silver bullet to get fibre to every premises in the UK, these new products represent a positive step, opening our infrastructure to supply industry with an even wider range of different mechanisms for delivering fibre broadband. We also think it's really important that consumers and businesses continue to enjoy a choice of fibre services so we will be expecting others to be as open as we are."Steve Robertson, (CEO) Openreach
The commercial launch of the PIA products are expected later in the year but more details and the reference pricing can be found on the Openreach website.