Ofcom have agreed to a proposal from BT to extend an exemption which allows BT to connect its old BT Wholesale 20CN DSLAMs directly to the main distribution frame (MDF) in exchanges without having to go via a handover distribution frame (HDF). The exemption was set out to allow BT's existing equipment to be exempt from the Equivalence of Input (EOI) processes required by LLU providers until 31st December 2011. BT's new 21CN equipment is connected through the HDF, so this only affects the legacy equipment.
BT proposed that the exemption be made permanent as it now has no plans to withdraw the 20CN network in all exchanges, work that was originally thought to be completed by the end of 2011. Some growth is expected in the rollout of 21CN to exchanges, reaching 90% by Spring 2013 and demand for 20CN is expected to reduce at those sites, but additional DSLAMs may need to be deployed at 20CN only exchanges.
Ofcom has accepted the proposal as it believes that forcing BT to adopt EOI would be disproportionate to the benefits, particularly with the disruption to end users that this would cause. The majority of the remaining homes are also in Market 1 exchanges, i.e. those that do not have an operator present providing broadband other than BT. There is no perceived detriment to this proposal on end customers or other communication providers. Sky did however express a concern that the granting of exemptions may undermine the 'integrity and original objectives' of the proposed arrangements.