REGULATORY

Openreach To Ramp Up Full-fibre Build After Ofcom Ruling

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By Jonathan Easton

BT has said that it will rapidly expand its full-fibre network in the wake of Ofcom’s decision not to impose price caps.

The regulator announced that it would not put a limit on the amount that Openreach can charge wholesale buyers as an attempt to incentivise BT to invest £12 billion(US$16.72billion) in the UK’s infrastructure rollout.

That incentive appears to have worked, with BT announcing that it will “build like fury” in the rollout of full-fibre.

Openreach, which is owned by BT but operated as a standalone business, said that it plans to build fibre-to-the-premises connections to 20 million homes and offices by the mid-to-late-2020s.

In a statement, Openreach CEO Clive Selley said: “Today’s regulation will allow us to ramp up to three million premises per year providing vital next generation connectivity for homes and business right across the UK.”

There have however been concerns that the new regulation has given Openreach, which already has a monopoly on the fibre market, a deal which is far too generous and prohibits competition.

Speaking to BBC Radio 4’s Today programme, Ofcom CEO Dame Melanie Dawes said that “The core of our approach is that we are trying to get competition into the wholesale network layer of broadband for the future, really for the first time in quite a new way.”

She denied that the ruling would harm consumers, and said that the deployment of full-fibre across the country “gives us all more options to choose from, not just on pricing but also on service quality and reliability.”

As a result of this plan, Openreach will now have the option to turn off copper-based networks in areas where full-fibre has been achieved. This will enable cost-reductions by removing the need to simultaneously maintain two different systems.

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