Britain's broadband boost: Regulator wants an infrastructure shake-up to reduce dependency on BT Openreach

Oliver Gill
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Ofcom wants more than just Openreach employees to be granted access to the nation's telecoms infrastructure

BT will be forced to share vital fixed line infrastructure with rivals in order to "reduce the country’s reliance on Openreach" under proposals by Britain's telecoms regulator.

Ofcom today revealed plans it hoped would make it "quick and easier" for the likes of Vodafone,TalkTalk and Sky to build their own fibre networks.

Openreach maintains the UK's main telecoms infrastructure and as a subsidiary of BT is under spiralling pressure to be more independent of FTSE 100 company.

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Today's proposals are an attempt by regulators to allow other companies to lay lines using Openreach's existing infrastructure and access BT's existing telegraph poles.

“Today we’re explaining how access to BT’s tunnels and poles could be improved, allowing other providers to connect ultrafast, fibre broadband directly to UK homes and offices. Our plans will give providers increased confidence to invest in their own full-fibre networks at reduced cost,” said Ofcom competition policy director, Yih-Choung Teh.

Ofcom is keen to drive forward the roll-out of ultrafast broadband by using cable and fibre lines rather than the copper-based technologies currently proposed by BT.

“Fibre is the future for broadband, and Ofcom is helping to deliver that through competition between networks, said Teh.

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The regulator added in a statement: "Ofcom is keen to ensure that all providers can lay fibre in BT’s ducts as easily as BT itself. So Ofcom is proposing improvements to the process so that rivals are not disadvantaged when using BT’s infrastructure to deploy ultrafast broadband services."

The news comes just days after BT chairman Sir Mike Rake played down suggestions Ofcom was putting pressure on the telecoms giant to to legally separate its Openreach broadband infrastructure division.

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