Broadband News

Ofcom releases draft rules to mandate duct access for business leased lines

The biggest asset Openreach has is its duct and pole access network and this is why Ofcom has previously moved to ensure that access to this network is available for roll-outs of full fibre and after a number of years and different versions of the rules it seems the residential and SME rules are working with Virgin Media, CityFibre and TalkTalk named as the big users of some 2,500km of duct and 12,000 poles.

This access is not enough and to help support competition in the big business market new rules proposed today would mean business grade leased line services would also be able to use the Openreach duct and pole network potentially reducing the install cost and reducing the gap from order to delivery. 

On the topic of dark fibre in areas where there are no competitors at an Openreach exchange then access will have to be given to Openreach fibre with firms supplying their own hardware to light the fibre, meaning the costs will be the same no matter whether the fibre is run at 10 Gbps or 100 Gbps. This is aimed at helping mobile network infrastructure roll-outs and may help to ensure that the ultrafast 5G speeds do move out of the big urban areas as well as supporting alt-nets who need access to backhaul grade fibre.

There is a steady stream of footpath nightmare stories and complaints about road closures as fibre operators build their own networks, so making more use of the space already in the ground will reduce the amount of digging needed and hopefully the number of complaints. The result of more pole sharing may not go down as well, as the nimby effect as people notice the work being done may lead to complaints, especially where poles are replaced with taller ones to comply with height clearance regulations. 

Last year we delivered our best ever service performance, but we want to keep improving and we share Ofcom’s desire to improve service across the industry.

Our ducts and poles have been open to other companies since 2011, and we recognise that unrestricted access is a natural next step so we had volunteered to get on with that, ahead of Ofcom’s original schedule.

We welcome the greater clarity around Dark Fibre and the timeframe needed to deliver a fully functional product to market.

We’ll consider the range of proposals carefully, and we’ll continue to work with Ofcom on developing an environment that encourages greater investment.

Openreach spokesperson

Comments

Don't see it making much difference in a direct buried area.

  • brianhe
  • 5 months ago

This will exacerbate the skills shortage. The expansion of BT's training programme (announced two years ago) is limited by planning permission for the pole parks to train those catching up with a ten year gap in preventive maintenance. The Highways Electrical now leads the Digital Policy Alliance Infrastructure Skills Group and their first objective is to identify local authorities willing to help expand the local delivery of training to existing standards to lay fibre and reinstate the surface.

  • PhilipVirgo
  • 5 months ago

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