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Ofcom releases more detail on its PIA2 proposals
Thursday 20 April 2017 11:11:39 by Andrew Ferguson

Duct and Pole Access to the many millions of premises served by the Openreach local loop is once more in the spotlight as Ofcom publishes its latest set of detail on the next version of PIA.

PIA (Physical Infrastructure Access) has existed in some form since 2010 but has never been taken up in any appreciable scale and with Ofcom now setting its sights on the UK reaching full fibre coverage of over 50% across the UK reducing the cost for new operators to deploy networks is central to this goal. The lengthy consultation document has lots of information and includes some feedback from previous consultations.

"1.18 If a downstream BT division (e.g. BT Consumer) were to deploy its own broadband fibre network using BT’s ducts and poles, it would be required to use the PIA product, in the same way as any other telecoms provider. BT’s recent agreement to reform Openreach to become a legally separate company within BT Group will strengthen the independence of Openreach from downstream BT divisions. However, BT’s broadband fibre networks are currently deployed by Openreach, and so our focus is on ensuring Openreach does not have an unfair advantage over competing network builders.

2.3 Telecoms providers interested in deploying ultrafast broadband networks at scale have expressed concern over the high costs required to deploy new physical infrastructure (such as ducts and poles). We believe that an effective PIA remedy will reduce the absolute costs and time required for competing telecoms providers to build ultrafast networks at scale. This should encourage additional investment and new entry into the market which in turn will promote competition in the WLA and downstream markets.

2.4 The PIA remedy was originally introduced following our review of the WLA market in 2010.2 The remedy required BT to allow third parties to deploy broadband networks using its physical infrastructure located in the local access network. It was primarily intended to assist telecoms providers wishing to offer fibre to the cabinet (FTTC) services in advance of BT roll-out of superfast broadband infrastructure, particularly in rural locations that were eligible for public funding support. However, the interest from competing providers to BT for these public funds, under Broadband Delivery UK (BDUK), ultimately failed to materialise.

3.12 We are at an important juncture in the development of the networks that will serve the needs of the UK in the future. In particular, network competition would make the decisions about how to serve the needs of customers in the future contestable. Instead of being constrained by BT’s chosen strategy of incrementally upgrading its existing copper network, competing telecoms providers have the opportunity to build their own ultrafast networks, such as FTTP."

Extracts from Ofcom PIA 2 consultation

The new proposals include a mixed use network, so that operators can also use the ducting to serve leased line connections at the same time as delivering to residential premises, and requirements on Openreach to ensure capacity on poles or ducts and things like duct blockages being cleared on a network 'ready for use' basis with the costs being spread equally across all users.

On interesting aspect is that Ofcom says 'Today’s measures are designed to spur investment in the next generation of ultrafast internet connections, and reduce the country’s historical reliance on Openreach – the network business within BT Group' and while this may be the case in terms of the cabling, it actually increases the reliance on a network topology that Openreach is looking after that is decades old and given the piecemeal way that towns and cities have developed over the decades the local loop is often a lot more complex than it needs to be. PIA 2 has the potential to allow Openreach to stagnate its current product set of VDSL2 products and rather focus on increasing its duct and pole teams and become the national guardian of the various pipes and poles without all the worries of running any active or optical hardware.

The big question now is when will the consultations end and providers be able to make full use of this next version of duct and pole access and which operators are looking to use this on a scale that will deliver many millions of full fibre connections in a few years.

We believe a very likely outcome if other operators do embrace the new sharing regime for full fibre is that areas with VDSL2 (likely to be too) and Virgin Media cable will be the first to benefit and the low population density of rural areas will mean they are left behind again, unless the continuing gainshare re-investment continues to deliver an even higher proportion of FTTP versus FTTC. The big money to be made is not in providing broadband, but selling access to subscription TV content.

The Government (who ever it is after the June General Election) will need to reconsider how the Universal Service Obligation will work and to date while BT Openreach has shown some interest, if they find their engineering teams are busy servicing a new full fibre roll-out and expanding capacity on urban ducts and poles they may be a lot less interested in delivering USO level broadband to the final million premises in the UK, irrespective of whether it has a minimum speed of 10 Mbps or 30 Mbps.


Posted by Blackmamba 7 days ago
Hi Broadband Watchers.
Seven years to late Gigaclear started from nil now with assets £100 million+ in the ground they must have known where the routing were ducts poles Post Codes Exchanges it is all on Samknows. I just hope customers keep investing and trusting their project. This will put value on your area but make shore you keep all options open.
Posted by jumpmum 7 days ago
Two sentences make me ask how this is meant to be funded at the regulated price level. Both require Capital investment on a risky basis.

" This network access obligation includes a requirement for Openreach to make adjustments to the existing infrastructure so it is ‘ready for use’ – repairing faulty infrastructure and relieving congested sections where necessary" and
Posted by jumpmum 7 days ago
" This network access obligation includes a requirement for Openreach to make adjustments to the existing infrastructure so it is ‘ready for use’ – repairing faulty infrastructure and relieving congested sections where necessary"
Posted by jumpmum 7 days ago
Sorry ignore the duplicate, it should read.
"We propose that BT should be required to ensure capacity for additional dropwires is available for telecoms providers to connect individual homes"
Posted by jumpmum 7 days ago
There must be hundreds of thousands of poles, and full duct sections that would need work doing ( including all the damaged ones they don't know about until someone looks at them).
Posted by andrew (Favicon staff member) 7 days ago
@Blackmamba This is nothing to do with exchange buildings, but the duct and pole network which is NOT on SamKnows.
Posted by Blackmamba 7 days ago
Hi Jumpmum.
In Surrey there were 3k poles to be changed out in the last 18 months I do not know if they have be done to surport the dropwires and to surport the provision of FTTP and G/ Fast all this will be determined by the customer in that area and their aspersions. I feel it is a insult that Openreach clears the blaockages and upgrades the route for others to obtain an advantage in in £ spent. This is not fair competition BT could respond with lost leader.
Posted by Blackmamba 7 days ago
Hi Andrew Staff and others.
The information is out there (Mamba project Dorking) it is up to the ISP,s to respond Sam knows does give the overall situation of the Exchange area and the facility's that are relevant. It all resides to what the customer wishes thus which they can afford at the present time. There are many exchanges will be made redundant as time passes.
Posted by Blackmamba 7 days ago
Hi Broadband Watchers.
The Mamba Project was designed for all customers in the U.K to respond to their wishes and aspersions using broadband in Surrey thus the U.K.
Posted by andrew (Favicon staff member) 7 days ago
@Blackmamba Please explain how SamKnows tells providers where the cabinets, poles and ducts are? That site tells you about LLU options and nothing about individual cabinets, drop points, jointing chambers, duct occupancy which is what Ofcom are talking about.

And please explain what this Mamba project is?
Posted by New_Londoner 6 days ago
Why do believe work is required on poles for G.Fast deployment? What exactly do you believe needs to be done?
Posted by radiomarko 6 days ago
Best not feed the troll.
Posted by fastman 5 days ago
the mamba project or whatever that is has no relevance on ant thin else onf the UK and the consistent mis/dis information that continue to publish really is coming massively unhelpful

BT could respond with lost leader really-- so you clearly know nothing bout the business in any shape or form

Posted by comnut 5 days ago
somebody over reacting again.. DO have a CLOSE LOOK at Blackmamba's post!

You will see that the info you are ranting about is NOT THERE!!
Posted by fastman 4 days ago
comnut I can 100% assure you it was there it was ccpied form his post which now appears to have been amended as it trails of significantly from the mamba post - or has been edited accordingly !!!!!
Posted by Blackmamba 3 days ago
Hi Broadband Watchers.
I have not changed my posts and I stand by them. From Samknows you have access to total customers Res/Bus access to street maps thus access to post codes thus access to Cabs duct runs poles etc.. Over 70 Cabs were logged/ In Surrey under the Dorking Meeting plus many others that were just tie to a customer number that may have not received 15 meg.
Posted by andrew (Favicon staff member) 3 days ago
@Blackmamba Can you provide a link or screen shot to where on samknows it tells people about the cabinet location and duct/pole.

You seem to be seeing things no else can, or are putting an over interpretation on the checker system they have.
Posted by Blackmamba 3 days ago
Hi Broadband Watchers
Samknows gives the GPS of the Exchange so all that is required is the GPS of the post codes off that Exchange which can be gathered of BT wifi hotspots GPS from this by using google maps in street mode you can measure the distances between Exchange cab and post code. I use imperial measurements to cover the 15 meg down. I used this method because Cabs and cable plus pole where commercial sensertive to BT/openreach.
Posted by Blackmamba 3 days ago
Hi Broadband Watchers
Remember Surrey was only interested in the Post Codes that could not surport 15 Meg so if an exchange had Adsl+2 ( Samknows) the post codes close to the Exchange were covered so these would be not in the OMR.
Posted by andrew (Favicon staff member) 3 days ago
@Blackmamba I am placing you on the naughty step, as you appear unable to understand what that knowing the exchange location and the location of a BT Home Hub Wi-Fi tells a competing operator nothing about location of ducts/poles and their condition.

You are either confused about PIA or are trolling.
Posted by baby_frogmella 3 days ago
Its a bit harsh banning Blackmamba. Even though most of his posts are incoherent, I'm sure he means well. I believe he's an ex BT/Openreach Engineer who hasn't caught up with the times. I would say he's misguided rather than trolling.
Posted by comnut 2 days ago
Andrew, DO tell, HOW do I edit my previous post??? I did not think it was possible...
Posted by andrew (Favicon staff member) 2 days ago
You cannot edit news comments
Posted by Zarjaz 1 day ago
@Baby_F. Nah, he's not ex BT/OR engineer.
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