VOA release revised guidelines for fibre rates; ISPA calls for urgent review
The review of fibre rates has been scrapped following revised guidelines being released by the Valuation Office Agency (VOA) on how it values fibre. The Conservative government originally put forward in their pre-election manifesto that they would hold a review to ensure that the current system which heavily favours the incumbent operator would be re-evaluated to help smaller providers.
"Following discussion with the industry, the VOA has updated its Rating Manual to incorporate revised guidance on the valuation of telecoms networks. Only two sections of the Manual are affected by this - Sections 871 and 873."
The VOA will continue to work closely with the industry and is committed to ensuring the fair and accurate rating of this emerging market.
We welcome all comments, and valuation evidence and will continue to actively engage with the industry."Valuations Office Agency
The new changes don't alter how BT's fibre network is valued, which has been the subject of some concern amongst other network operators.
"I welcome the work that VOA has been doing with industry. These new guidelines will offer much greater clarity for businesses that invest in broadband networks and give them the opportunity to feed their views to the VOA.
VOA has made it clear that they welcome evidence from the industry to enable the Agency to maintain a fair and accurate rating for this important market, which is a priority for the coalition Government.
I hope that industry will take the opportunity to study this new guidance and to engage constructively with VOA for the benefit of consumers and businesses throughout the country.Ed Vaizey, Minister for Communications
ISPA, the trade association representing UK Internet Service Providers have released a statement in response to the VOA announcement in which they call for an urgent review of the new rating system.
"ISPA regretfully notes the complete lack of understanding required to help the development of small scale broadband networks within the UK and is disappointed at the adoption of this short term thinking, especially when businesses are looking for help from government in attracting inward investment in infrastructure projects.
Rather than boosting small scale projects, the changes to calculations announced increase (in some cases by a factor of 10 times) the costs for a small scale community project which is in contrast to Government's previous statements on this issue.
ISPA recognises the reduction of the fibre rate for new NGA access providers to £20 per premise connected, but notes that the adopted methodology may be more expensive for FTTC networks that have already been deployed and it does not allow for models to be developed outside of those adopted by the incumbent operator.
ISPA calls for an urgent review of the new rating system and will continue to seek the active support of Government to make the case for realistic, lower rateable values to encourage investment in community, rural and alternative network investment."ISPA statement